Subject: SMH: International pressure helps Gusmao get powerful portfolio

Sydney Morning Herald September 14, 2001

International pressure helps Gusmao get powerful portfolio

By Mark Dodd, Herald Correspondent in Dili

The independence leader Mr Xanana Gusmao is likely to get the senior ministerial position of national strategic and defence planning in East Timor's new Council of Ministers after leading donor countries intervened.

A senior East Timorese diplomatic source said Mr Gusmao's appointment was decided after international pressure was exerted to give someone of his stature a senior post on the council.

The new Cabinet, to be sworn in tomorrow, will comprise at least 10 ministers and two secretaries of state and will be dominated by Fretilin appointments after the party won 55 seats in the 88-seat Constituent Assembly elections a fortnight ago.

The Social Democrats (PSD), who won six seats, have threatened to boycott the assembly in protest at Fretilin's dominance of the Cabinet.

Mr Fernando de Araujo, president of the Democratic Party, which came second in the elections with seven seats, said he shared the PSD's concerns but pledged his party's support in the new assembly.

"While Fretilin won 55 seats, it should not mean they take all the [ministerial] positions. We have to start in a democratic way because we don't want to end up with a situation like Cambodia.

"We must gather all of our potential to make a contribution to build the new foundations for our country."

Mr de Araujo called on the head of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor, Mr Sergio Vieira de Mello, to use his executive powers to ensure an equitable distribution of Cabinet portfolios.

Fretilin's chief, Mr Mari Alkatiri, will keep the economic affairs portfolio, and the Nobel laureate Mr Jose Ramos Horta will keep the foreign affairs portfolio.

Mr Ramos Horta's former wife, Ms Anna Pessoa, will be given justice, while health will probably be awarded to an Independent. Sources close to Fretilin say the Democratic Party is likely to be given an important finance portfolio.

"Fretilin is going through a deep and involved process to select only people with integrity and capacity," a Fretilin source said.

At a ceremony held before Fretilin's central committee on Tuesday three parties - the Socialists, the Association of Timorese Social Democrats and the Christian Democrats - committed their support to Fretilin in the new assembly.


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