Subject: FEER: E Timorese Unhappy About Being Sidelined By UN

Dow Jones Newswires November 1, 2000

FEER: E Timorese Unhappy About Being Sidelined By UN

- By John McBeth in the Far Eastern Economic Review published Thursday.

JAKARTA -- It's been more than a year since the U.N. descended on the ruins of East Timor in a brave pioneering effort to rebuild a country from ground zero. By general agreement, the UN has achieved a lot, restoring the former Portuguese colony to life in the face of continuing violence and against a backdrop of years of neglect.

But among East Timorese, there has been frustration over the failure of the UN Transitional Authority in East Timor, or Untaet, to involve more local people in drawing up a comprehensive blueprint of what they want their new nation to be.

"We are not interested in inheriting an economic rationale that leaves out the social and political complexity of East Timorese reality," said independence leader Xanana Gusmao - East Timor's probable future president - in a rare broadside in early October. "Nor do we wish to inherit the heavy decision-making and project-implementation mechanisms in which the role of the East Timorese is to give their consent as observers rather than the active players we should start to be."

Other East Timorese agree. "The first thing the UN did wrong was to run the country by itself," says Joao Carruscalao, minister of infrastructure. He's a member of the eight-member cabinet formed six months ago in response to mounting calls from the National Council of Timorese Resistance, or CNRT, for more direct involvement in the nitty-gritty of governance.

Outsiders, too, are worried about the East Timorese being left out. "There's no economic model, in fact there's no modeling of the country at all in the way the East Timorese want it," says one independent Western consultant, who has spent most of the past 12 months in Dili, the territory's still-devastated capital. "If the East Timorese don't participate, then they don't own the future."

-(For the complete story, see this week's edition of the Far Eastern Economic Review.)

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