Subject: Timor opposition leader targets policies in Lisbon address

7/6/2008

‘Painting a cautiously upbeat scene of East Timor, opposition leader Mari Alkatiri has criticized the policies of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão's government in several areas during an address in the Portuguese capital.

Speaking Monday at Lisbon's Geographic Society, Alkatiri said his country's recent experience of "gratuitous and institutionalized" violence had been overcome, but he warned that what he called the government's policy of "exclusion rather than inclusion" could reignite turmoil.

Describing the recent hike of food and fuel prices in East Timor as "grave", he criticized Gusmão’s remedy of "subsidizing consumption", arguing that a better solution would be "subsidizing production".

He also targeted Dili's decision to revoke Portugal Telecom's monopoly on the country's fledgling telephone sector, a scheme approved under an Alkatiri-led executive, charging such a move placed "judicial security" at risk.

Despite the country's difficulties, Alkatiri sounded an optimistic note, saying he did not want to "wash dirty laundry" abroad and underlining that Dili boasted record revenues, a swelling oil fund and continued support from the international community.

On another controversial front, the former prime minister said he "accepted" President José Ramos Horta's commuting of nearly 100 prison sentences last month, including that of Alkatiri's former interior minister, Rogério Lobato, for involvement in the wave of violence two years ago and of several former pro-Indonesian militiamen for crimes against humanity.

But he cautioned that such "generous" decisions should be made with great care to avoid setting "a bad precedent".

Alkatiri’s private visit to Lisbon followed a trip to Angola last week where he met with President José Eduardo dos Santos.

TPN/Lusa


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