Subject: AP: Timor's Gusmao Urges Development

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

Timor's Gusmao Urges Development

By JOANNA JOLLY

DILI, East Timor, April 19 (AP) - East Timor's president-elect outlined his economic program in parliament on Friday, and urged lawmakers to pass legislation needed for the poor, soon-to-be-independent nation's development.

Xanana Gusmao, a former guerrilla fighter who was elected president by a landslide Sunday, said the assembly should, among other things, create a legal framework to regulate the monetary system.

``Without ... economic success, our people will not be able to benefit from many of the fundamental rights implicit in the Constitution,'' he said.

East Timor will become the world's newest nation on May 20 when U.N. administrators leave. The world body has been governing the country since it voted for independence from Indonesia in 1999.

Despite substantial oil and gas reserves, it will rank as one of the poorest nations in Southeast Asia. Analysts say it will be dependent on foreign aid for years to come.

Gusmao told lawmakers that he wanted them to focus on passing legislation which will ensure economic development for the country where almost half the population lives on less than half a dollar a day.

He also said he would use his new role as president to scrutinize government policy.

``The president must remain vigilant,'' he told lawmakers who gave him a standing ovation as he entered the assembly hall.

Under East Timor's new constitution the president plays a largely symbolic role but is able to veto some of the laws passed by the legislature. Real power lies in the hands of the prime minister and the government.

East Timor's main resistance party, Fretilin, holds two-thirds of the seats in the 88-member assembly.

A recent rift between Gusmao and Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri has caused concern that East Timor may be heading for political instability. However, both men have played down their disagreements.

A Fretilin spokesman offered his full cooperation with the president-elect on behalf of the ruling party.


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