Subject: RDP: Timorese independence increasingly unlikely in 2001

BBC Summary of World Broadcasts

January 13, 2001, Saturday

Timorese independence increasingly unlikely in 2001

Source: RDP Antena 1 radio, Lisbon, in Portuguese 1000 gmt 12 Jan 01

Excerpt from report by Portuguese radio on 12 January

[Presenter] It is increasingly less likely that East Timor will become independent this year. The difficulties which have been emerging throughout the political process have delayed the act which will render independence official in this country. Antonio Veladas reports:

[Veladas] ... Xanana Gusmao [president of the National Council of the Timorese Resistance] agreed with Dom Ximenes Belo [bishop of Dili and 1996 Nobel Peace laureate] and Jose Ramos Horta [Vice-President of the National Council of the Timorese Resistance and 1996 Nobel Peace laureate] who have said that the schedule for independence is still under discussion and needs to be approved by the current parliament of the transitional government, before it is presented to Sergio Vieira de Mello [head of UNTAET - UN Transitional Administration in East Timor] for deliberation. Therefore, 2001 might not be the year of independence for East Timor.

The choice of an official language is also a concern. UNTAET has been employing Timorese staff but one of its requirements is the ability to speak and write in English. Xanana Gusmao [president of the National Council of the Timorese Resistance] believes this is another example of the disrespect for Timorese values:

[Gusmao] This is complicated. UNTAET has shown total disrespect for our historical and cultural past, but we do not consider this to be the main concern. The main concern is preparation. The main concern is our ability to change the political and legal statute of UNTAET through the elected bodies.

[Veladas] What about the establishment of Portuguese as the official language?

[Gusmao] That will go forward. Obviously, taking into account the present difficulties, we regard it more as a long-term issue.

[Veladas] Portuguese was chosen to be the official language in East Timor in the August 2000 congress...

[Presenter] Lusa [Portuguese news agency] announced today that Vasco Duarte de Almeida will replace Pedro Vacelar de Vasconcelos in UNTAET. Duarte de Almeida should soon leave for Timor to head the constitutional and electoral section of the Timorese Political Affairs Ministry.

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