Subject: UNOTIL's Daily Media Review 18-20 March 2006

Daily Media Review

Saturday & Monday, 18-20 March 2006

National Media Reports

No Compromise In Decision: Ruak

F-FDTL Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak reportedly told the media that there are no more compromises following the decision to sack the 591 soldiers even if President Gusmao, Supreme Commanders of F-FDTL, disagrees. Taur said the decision not to accept them back is to avoid setting a bad precedent in the future. "Look at the conditions of the war veterans; many of them are still bad off. If we admit them back, the same can be repeated. It is better not to readmit them, because our intention is, whomever joins F-FDTL is meant to serve the nation and the people. F-FDTL's high-ranking position is not a suitable one for anyone to get rich," Ruak said. He emphasized that the officers were expelled for leaving the institution's headquarters and not for signing the petition, adding that the army is composed of volunteers. F-FDTL Brigadier General explained that on January 11 he received an anonymous petition to which President Gusmao responded by way of a letter that the matter should be dealt with as soon as possible. According to Rauk, on 2-3 February he called a meeting with soldiers and sergeants in Baucau headquarters to discuss the petition but when the issue was raised some of the soldiers said it was a matter that only the President had the competence to resolve. The Chief of the Armed Forces insisted that it be dealt with within the institution but he added that upon his return to Dili on 4 February, many of the members had fled Baucau headquarters and Metinaro Training Centre to meet with President Gusmao on 8 February. He added that ever since, he made several proposals for those who signed the petition such as establishing a platoon or a program. Ruak said that they have refused to cooperate with the investigation process and when they were allowed out of the headquarters on 18 February and scheduled to return on 20 February they did not return. STL reported the Brigadier General as saying that those who have been dismissed should spare using all sorts of measures to put pressure on him as it will not work. Instead, he suggested, they present better ideas for a solution.

In a separate article, Prime Minister Alkatiri reportedly said that he does not believe that the 591 soldiers will create instability. "The Government is in control of the situation. The party presently in charge is a big party and therefore has the power to go to the base to control the situation. While this party is in power there won't be any instability," Alkatiri stated. He said that overall the situation will be a disadvantage to the Government as it has already spent a lot of money for the 591 soldiers and more will be required for new recruits, adding that those who have left have learned a lot in the years with the Armed Forces.

Minister of Foreign Affairs Jose Ramos-Horta reportedly said that there is no democracy within the Armed Forces as they are expected only to follow orders from the command. Ramos-Horta said Timor-Leste is trying to establish a professional defence force to serve the nation and the people and they are not expected to behave like students who decide to take to the streets to protest if they disagree with the Government. He agrees with the dismissal saying it is a tough but just decision.

MP Riak Leman (PSD) said the soldiers' abandonment of F-FDTL headquarters shows a lack of leadership capacity. Leman pointed out that according to military regulations, it is incorrect for a soldier to abandon headquarters without justification and the decision to dismiss them is correct although there may be repercussions. "The decision does not resolve the problem, but it can lead to many other problems. For example, when F-FDTL starts the recruitment process, the youth from the west might be reluctant to apply, based on these recent events," Riak Leman said. He added that the problems with F-FDTL institution began in Aileu, Remexio and other parts, but each problem was never examined and resolved.

Aderito de Jesus, Human Rights lawyer, is of the opinion that President Gusmao as the Supreme Commander of the National Armed Forced is aware and in agreement with Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak in dismissing the soldiers. (STL, TP, DN)

Priests Politically Active Behind Cassock: Alkatiri

Fretilin's Secretary General, Mari Alkatiri said he doesn't need to hide behind a cassock to practice politics like some priests. "Now it's not only Xavier [ASDT President]. Some priests are also involved in this thing. I'm not a Catholic but my faith in religion is above that of some priests. I don't hide behind the cassock. I'm not hiding," Mari reportedly said during a ceremony held at Fretilin's Central Committee (CCF) on Saturday when five youth groups decided to affiliate with Fretilin. Alkatiri said not only certain people within Fretilin are trying to destroy it, but some priests as well as they do not want to see the party get stronger. Referring to allegations that some members of CCF are buying votes not to elect Lu'Olo as President and Alkatiri as Secretary General, Mari refused to comment about it saying to wait until the congress. "Dispose of Lu'Olo or Mari, and if there is a replacement, that's good, provided they take the party forward. If not, we will go to the base of the population," Mari Alkatiri stressed.

Fretilin's President Lu'Olo was also reported as saying that the statements made by a few priests in asking the population not to vote for Fretilin because it doesn't believe in God, are not statements from the Catholic Church but from priests acting as individuals. "As a religious institution, I respect the Catholic Church, but I say this is the priest's politics," Lu'Olo said adding that politics should not be mixed with each person's choice of religion. (STL, TP, DN)

Office of Provedor Opens Door To The Public

The Office of the Provedor for Justice and Human Rights is open to the public as of today. Speaking to the media during a press conference on Friday, Sebastiao Dias said that his office will start receiving complaints from citizens on any matter relating to public domain. The office of the Provedor is being supported by UNOTIL, World Bank and USAID. (STL, DN)

The Person To Replace Xanana Must Have His Charisma: Dom Basilio Do Nascimento

Dom Basilio do Nascimento said the person who is going to replace Xanana as the next President must have the same charisma because he is an important figure national and internationally. Dom Basilio said Timor-Leste still needs him to candidate for the 2007 Presidential elections, but if he no longer wants to candidate he should not be forced to. The Bishop said Xanana is a charismatic person for the world and that's important for this nation. He added that whoever is replacing Gusmao must know the suffering of the people, adding that Xanana is a person with history in Timor-Leste and the world and when he became President the international community valued him greatly for holding on to the independence process which he has done up to present day.

Regional Media Reports

IMF encourages East Timor government to boost investment in infrastructures and administration

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) this week encouraged the government of East Timor to boost state investments, particularly in infrastructures and human resources for administration, in order to reach an annual economic growth rate of 7 percent.

The report on the IMF's latest mission to East Timor, headed by Susan Creane, says that "rapid movement on the government's plans to create a business-friendly environment is needed, including getting the necessary legal structure in place and reducing red tape."

"In the near term, well-targeted public investment (in infrastructure and human capital) should be stepped up by easing budget execution constraints and further strengthening of administrative capacity under the government's Planning Financial Management Capacity Building program. Over the longer-term, growth and job creation will need to come from the private sector," it adds.

In the IMF's opinion, in order to reach its development objectives, Timor will have to reach a development rate of 7 percent per year, which " will require more forceful advancement of the government's development strategy."

"Despite good progress in establishing the basis for a stable and healthy economy, administrative capacity remains low and economic growth remains below the level needed to reduce poverty and strengthen human development," the report says.

The report applauds the macroeconomic stability achieved in the half-island and acknowledges that the non-oil sector of the economy had "moderately positive," performance in 2004 and 2005. (macauhub)

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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