Subject: UNOTIL Daily Media Review 23 June 2006

[Poster's note: Repeats of international articles already sent out to the east-timor list (info@etan.org) have been removed.]

UNOTIL

Compiled by the Public Information Office from national and international sources

Daily Media Review Friday, 23 June 2006

National Media Reports

President Republic insist National Political Commission (CPNP) of Fretilin to re-organise Fretilin extraordinary + Xanana gives ultimatum to Fretilin + CCF does not agree Alkatiri to resign.

President Xanana Gusmão insists that the National Political Commission (CPNP) of Fretilin re-organise Fretilin extraordinary congress within one week because he does not accept the result of the congress held between May17-19. Xanana further stated that Fretilin, being the one that created the Constitution of RDTL, should define democratic rules and laws. He said “according to the constitution, F-FDTL and PNTL must be neutral bodies and not defend any political party as in the case of PNTL which has been under Fretilin government”.

In a separate article, Suara Timor Lorosae reported that Xanana gave an ultimatum to Fretilin to ask Mari Alkatiri to resign and take responsibility for the current political crisis or he (President) would tender his resignation to parliament. “I ask all Fretilin to ask comrade Alkatiri to resign and take responsibility for the current political crisis or I will resign,” Xanana stated during his televised speech on Thursday evening at the Palácio das Cinzas. In the meantime, Fretilin’s Deputy Secretary-General, Jose Reis, stated during a press conference at the party’s headquarters yesterday that Fretilin Central Committee (CCF) disagrees with the president’s demand for Prime Minister Alkatiri to resign. “According to the constitution, the Prime Minister can only resign if the National Parliament does not approve the national budget twice or the National Parliament does not have confidence in the Prime Minister anymore,” said Reis. Reis further added that the President of RDTL should take responsibility in guaranteeing stability of the country rather than destabilize it. (STL, TP)

For the nation and Fretilin, Alkatiri should resign

MP Antonio Ximenes from the Christians Democratic Party told STL reporter at the National Parliament that for the sake of the nation and brighter future for Fretilin, Mari Alkatiri should resign from his position as Prime Minister. “Alkatiri is a founder of Fretilin, and if he wants Fretilin to be a prosperous party he should resign” said Ximenes. He further added that, if Mari resigns the situation can be normalised again and also make it easier for the independent investigation team from the UN. (STL)

Bishop Belo: If the leaders trying to create conflict it is better for them to leave”

In an email message, Bishop and Nobel Peace price winner Dom Carlos Belo appealed to East Timorese to “hold hands” together as Timorese. In the email Dom Carlos Belo also stated that he prays for the East Timorese and for God to bring peace to East Timor. “I send my love and solidarity to you all, from east to west, south to north, we have suffered enough to gain our independence” said Bishop Belo adding that if leaders are trying to create conflict then it is better for them to step aside. (STL)

International Media Reports

Daily Telegraph:

Gusmão 'a galvanizing force'

PRIME Minister John Howard has described East Timor's president Xanana Gusmão as a galvanising force across the troubled nation.

"Gusmão has a lot of support in East Timor, he's a very popular figure," Mr Howard told Channel 9 today.

Mr Gusmão has said he will resign today unless Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri steps down from office following riots and killings in the capital Dili.

"How he (Mr Gusmão) resolves his differences with Dr Alkatiri is a matter for the processes of East Timorese democracy but Gusmão has been a galvanising leadership figure in the affairs of that country for a very long time and I find it very hard to believe that he won't remain at the centre of political events," Mr Howard said.

-0-

U.N. to boost food aid to Timor-Leste

DILI, Timor-Leste, June 22 (UPI) -- The U.N. World Food Program says it will expand its food aid initiative to relieve the hunger of tens of thousands in Timor-Leste.

The WFP already is providing food, oil and sugar to 60,000 displaced people in the small nation formerly known as East Timor. The U.N. agency is now expanding its operations to 30,000 others living in the districts of Ermera, Manatuto and Baucau outside the capital, Dili.

"Recent events have shaken the food security of the entire country," WFP Representative Tarek Elguindi said in the capital of Dili Thursday. The United Nations shepherded the Southeast Asian nation to independence from Indonesia four years ago.

"WFP calls on its donors and partners to help quickly, to prevent any further suffering," said Elguindi.

Roughly 145,000 people have been forced to flee their homes, and at least 37 people have been killed since fighting broke out in late April. The unrest erupted when nearly 600 soldiers, a third of Timor-Leste's armed forces, were dismissed following a strike to protest perceived discrimination against those from the west of the country.

The WFP will also provide supplementary food to 15,000 hungry children under 5-years-old and pregnant and lactating women in Dili, in cooperation with the government, the U.N. Children's Fund and non-governmental organizations.

In total, the agency has provided assistance to over 82,000 people since civil turmoil began.

-0-

Radio New Zealand:

Thousands of protesters have gathered around East Timor's Parliament to add pressure on Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri to step down.

The ABC reports protesters have arrived in Dili by the truckload, joining about 700 demonstrators camped outside the government palace.

They have been spurred on by President Xanana Gusmao's threat to resign if Dr Alkatiri does not accept responsibility for East Timor's ongoing crisis.

Demonstrators have voiced their support for Mr Gusmao. They say if Mr Gusmao goes instead of Dr Alkatiri, there could be new turmoil on the streets.

"The President should not step down," one of the protest organisers, Agosto Junio, said. "Mari Alkatiri is the one to blame for the trouble. He is a communist, a criminal."

Security is being provided by troops among the more than 2,200 foreign peacekeepers sent to East Timor last month.

Australian helicopters are circling overhead. Dr Alkatiri, who has dismissed the latest threat, is still refusing to give in.

Mr Gusmao says he will write his resignation letter on Friday, unless Dr Alkatiri resigns first.

Mr Gusmao, Foreign and Defence Minister Jose Ramos-Horta, and Dili's influential bishops are locked in a meeting.

Their aides say Dr Alkatiri could join them later.

-0-

Channel News Australia

Timor Leste’s Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri continues to resist calls for him to resign.

President Xanana Gusmao has now said that he will submit his own resignation to Parliament unless Mr Alkatiri took responsibility for the ongoing clashes between military troops and the police that have left at least 30 people dead.

For more, Yvonne Gomez spoke to Dr Damien Kingsbury, Senior Lecturer in International Development Studies at Deakin University in Australia.

Dr Kingsbury feels that if President Gusmao resigns, a new presidential election would need to be held, and if Xanana Gusmao ran for the post again, he could use the election as a referendum on the popularity of Prime Minister Alkatiri.

DK: The alternative would be, perhaps, the Fretilin party members or the members of the Central Committee would see this as such a serious issue that they would revolt against Mari Alkatiri, given that there’s already a lot of disquiet in Fretilin towards the Prime Minister. That might be another consequence.

How do you think the East Timorese will react to it?

DK: I think the East Timorese people will be very upset if Xanana Gusmao resigns as President. He’s a very popular president. He received approximately 80% of the vote in the presidential election. He’s certainly seen as a unifying figure and he has great moral authority. So it would certainly put pressure on Mari Alkatiri. The problem is Mari Alkatiri is really digging in his heels. He has said he won’t resign. So really, the only way he can now be put out of the prime ministership is if his own party basically issues a vote of no confidence in his leadership, and that’s a very serious step. The problem of course is, if they do this, you then require the president to use his executive authority to remove the prime minister. But if Xanana Gusmao resigns, he won’t be able to do that.

Alkatiri has defended himself by saying that his own resignation would complicate things. What does he mean by this?

DK: Well, what I think he’s trying to say is…two things, one of which is that the Fretilin Party would be very angry at his forced resignation and that there would be further turmoil and civil unrest. Also, if he was removed unconstitutionally, then that would obviously complicate the future political process in East Timor. He really only can be removed if he resigns voluntary, or commits and is charged with a serious criminal offence or if there’s a vote of no confidence in his leadership. So what I think he’s saying now is if he’s forced out, it would be against the constitution and that that would have very serious long term consequences for the new state of East Timor.

Speaking of the constitution, Alkatiri has also said that a solution to the present crisis must be found within the Constitution. Where does this solution lie?

DK: I think Alkatiri is correct about that. I think that if there were any moves outside of the constitution, it would have really negative or long-term consequences. The options within the constitution are essentially that he either commits and is charged with a criminal offence and can be removed, or there is a vote of no confidence in his leadership either by the parliamentary party, the Fretilin Party, or by a majority of parliament. The problem with Parliament at the moment is it’s having a great deal of difficulty in actually meeting and bringing together a quorum of members. Of course, getting Fretilin to vote against Mari Alkatiri would be difficult. They control about 65% of the seats in Parliament, which is a substantial majority. Whilst many people in Fretilin are very unhappy with Mari Alkatiri’s leadership, they’ve been persuaded not to vote against them, at least at this stage.

What about the involvement of other countries in the deepening political crisis here? Portugal has voiced its concerns, and presumably Indonesia is also watching Timor Leste closely.

DK: Well, Portugal and Australia probably have the primary responsibility for the future of East Timor. Both countries have a significant interest in the country. Both countries have made significant investments in East Timor’s future and they’re the ones who’ve provided the bulk of the military and police forces that are there now. Indonesia’s role is a bit more difficult to ascertain. I think that Indonesia would be keeping a watching brief, but I think, especially given Indonesia’s history in East Timor, they would be very unwise to engage in anything more than just protecting their own borders at this stage.

That was Dr Damien Kingsbury, Senior Lecturer in International Development Studies at Deakin University in Australia. He was speaking to Yvonne Gomez. ­ RSI

National News Sources Timor Post (TP) Radio Timor-Leste (RTL) Suara Timor Lorosae (STL) Diario Tempo (DT) Diario Nacional Seminario Lia Foun (LF) Televisaun Timor-Leste [TVTL]

These Items Do Not Reflect the Position or Views of the United Nations. UNOTIL Public Information Office


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