Subject: UNMISET Daily Media Review 22 April 2005

[Poster's note: Long repeats of international articles already sent out to the east-timor list have been removed.]

UNMISET Daily Press Review

Compiled by the Public Information Office from national and international sources

Daily Media Review Friday, 22 April 2005

President on row in TL over religion in schools

The President’s Chief of Staff, Agio Pereira, has played down concerns that the dispute between the Church and the State over compulsory religious education in schools could escalate. Thousands of East Timorese have been demonstrating in the capital for three consecutive days, upset over Government plans to run a pilot program in about 30 schools where religious studies will be taught as an optional rather than a compulsory subject.

In an interview with ABC radio, Pereira said the protests are not a major concern. “The President always urges joint efforts to work on things that are of national interest, and therefore the President continues to urge that all parties break the barriers of misunderstanding and reach agreement, even if at the end they have to agree to disagree,” he said.

The Chief of Staff denied that there is fear or indication that the protest could be destabilising for the Government of Timor-Leste. “As long as there’s no violence, and as long as there’s no attitudes that go beyond what is acceptable by law and democracy, the President thinks this is a test of our democratic processes of a young nation of less than three years.”

Meanwhile, President Xanana Gusmão has praised the protestors for the way they have conducted their demonstration peacefully. Speaking at a press conference at the international airport before leaving for the AsiaAfrica Conference in Indonesia, the President said that he also very much appreciated the work of the police in controlling the demonstration. However, the President expressed disappointment with the use of religious icons during the demonstration as well as the fact that the demands of the demonstration had moved on from that of religion to also include justice and security, among others. He called for the government and Church to initiate dialogue to discuss the matter. (ABC, STL, Timor Post)

Indonesian officer accidentally shot in border incident

An Indonesian security officer was accidentally wounded yesterday when border patrols from both countries were attempting to arrest smugglers near Timor-Leste’s frontier with West Timor. The incident occurred early yesterday when the Timorese border police and an Indonesian military patrol chased the group of presumed smugglers on the road from Maliana to Balibo, about 70 kilometres west of Dili. An Indonesian lieutenant was inadvertently shot in the leg during the joint pursuit by the Timorese patrol.

To defuse the tension between forces, the United Nations’ envoy for Timor-Leste, Dr Sukehiro Hasgawa, has called a meeting this morning between Indonesian and Timorese commanders as well as UN military observers. (Lusa)

TL becomes newest applicant to join UN tourism agency

Timor-Leste, the world’s youngest country, has become the newest applicant for membership of the United Nations’ tourism agency. The World Tourism Organization (WTO) is a global forum that plays a decisive role in promoting the development of responsible, sustainable and universally accessible tourism. The Timor-Leste application, together with those of Papua New Guinea, the United Kingdom and Belarus, will be submitted in November to the WTO’s General Assembly in Senegal. (UN News)

Timor-Leste participates in Asia-Africa Conference

Timor-Leste’s President and Prime Minister will participate in the Bandung Asia-Africa Conference today. The United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan along with representatives from approximately 46 countries are expected to participate. Timor-Leste’s Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri will open the conference. (Timor Post)

Next Donors Conference upcoming

The next donor’s conference for Timor-Leste will be held next week in order to discuss Timor-Leste’s future development. After meeting with Timor-Leste’s Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri on Thursday, the UN’s Special Representative for Timor-Leste, Dr Sukehiro Hasegawa, said the conference is an important forum for a discussion of the needs of the people of Timor-Leste and of monetary developments, which will support areas such as education and health.

Hasegawa added that after the donor’s conference there would be an international conference on 28 and 29 April to reflect on the peacekeeping operations of the United Nations in Timor-Leste between 1999 and 2005. (Timor Post)

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