Subject: Interview with D. Basílio do Nascimento

Translated from Portuguese by list member.

Interview with D. Basílio do Nascimento

Rádio Renascença ­ 21-08-2007 - 7:57

By Anabela Góis

A week after the swearing in of the new Timorese government, the bishop of Baucau analyses the current situation of the country in an interview with Renascença.

There have been some moments of turmoil following the legislative elections in Timor-Leste and in particular, in the aftermath of the decision by the President of the Republic, Ramos-Horat, to appoint (on the 8th) the alliance of parties led by Xanana Gusmão.

D. Basílio do Nascimento who remained in his diocese during some of the most complicated moments said that calm has returned to his country, but notes that Baucau continues to have strong police presence led by the GNR, which comes under the UN’s mission in Timor-Leste.

In his opinion, it was important that the security forces remained and that good senses prevailed.

As to the affected population, D. Basílio refers to the Government which has already sent assistance to the displaced people and has promised to rebuild houses which were destroyed during the disturbances.

The most recent incident occurred in the diocese of Baucau. The Bishop explained that it was all provoked by Australian military forces working for the UN, who decided to play with a FRETILIN flag, ending up inciting the discontent which had already calmed.

Remembering other more difficult times ­ the attack on the Báguía orphanage ­ D. Basílio do Nascimento said that there were so many versions of the story that he decided to listen to the local priest in order to find out what in fact took place. The meeting has been scheduled for Tuesday.

At the moment however the situation is calm in the country. In his opinion it shows that there is a mixture of good senses and a show of who is charge (in the case of the security forces who have not sided with FRETILIN as some people suspected). Whereas to the new government, D. Basílio said that it is still too early to make any judgment.

“In politics, as in everything, it’s like a melon: we only know that it’s ripe after we have cracked it. I would say that only after the first 100 days will we have an idea of how good this government is. For now there is a benefit of the doubt and a lot of expectations,” he said.

The complete audio (in Portuguese):

Agência Ecclesia - 20/08/2007 - 17:03

Original Portuguese text:

<>D. Basílio do Nascimento em entrevista

Rádio Renascença ­ 21-08-2007 - 7:57 Entrevista de Anabela Góis

Passada quase uma semana da tomada de posse do novo Governo timorense, o Bispo de Baucau analisa, em entrevista à Renascença, a situação vivida no país.

Foram tumultuosos os momentos vividos após as eleições legislativas em Timor-Leste e, sobretudo, depois da decisão do Presidente da República, Ramos Horta, de empossar (no passado dia 8) a coligação de partidos liderada por Xanana Gusmão.

D. Basílio do Nascimento, que viveu na sua diocese alguns dos momentos mais complicados, diz que a calma já regressou ao país, mas refere que em Baucau continua a existir reforço policial, através de elementos da GNR que integram a missão da ONU em Timor.

Em seu entender, foi importante que as forças de segurança não tenham tomado partido e que tenha imperado o bom senso.

Quanto à população afectada, D. Basílio refere que o Governo já enviou ajuda aos deslocados e se comprometeu a reconstruir as casas que foram queimadas durante os distúrbios.

O mais recente incidente ocorreu na diocese de Baucau. O Bispo explica que tudo foi provocado por militares australianos ao serviço da ONU, que decidiram brincar com uma bandeira da FRETILIN, acabando por acicatar os ânimos já calmos.

Lembrando outro momento difícil ­ o ataque ao orfanato de Báguía ­ D. Basílio do Nascimento diz que as versões são tantas que decidiu ouvir o padre local para apurar o que se passou de facto. O encontro está marcado para esta terça-feira.

Nesta altura, porém, a situação é calma no país. Para tal, contribuiu, no entender do Bispo de Baucau, uma mistura de bom senso com uma mostra de quem manda (caso das forças de segurança que não tomaram partido pela FRETILIN, como alguns esperavam). Quanto ao novo Governo, D. Basílio diz que ainda é cedo para fazer avaliações.

“Na política, como em tudo, é uma melancia: só sabemos que está madura depois de abrir. Eu diria que só depois dos primeiros 100 dias é que temos uma ideia do que o Governo vale. Por agora, há o benefício da dúvida e muita expectativa”, refere.

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Agência Ecclesia - 20/08/2007 - 17:03AKI

East Timor: Australian troops provoke more unrest claims biggest party

Dili, 20 August (AKI) - East Timor’s largest party, Fretilin, has accused Australian troops stationed in the country of fuelling conflict by failing to respect the party's flag. According to Fretilin's vice president and MP Arsenio Bano, Australian troops have torn up Fretilin flags and using them as 'toilet roll'.

He said the incidents occurred in the eastern part of the country on 18 August, at two separate locations ­ on the road between Baucau and Viqueque and in the village of Alala in Viqueque district. Villagers in the district had raised the Fretilin flag to protest the appointment of former president and independence fighter Xanana Gusmao as prime minister.

"At Walili, two Australian military vehicles full of soldiers tore up a Fretilin flag which had been raised at the roadside, wiped their backsides with it and drove off with the flag. The stolen flag was returned by an Australian army captain later that day,” he said on Monday.

"In Alala village, Australian troops tried to sever a Fretilin flag from its rope and then drove over it,” he added.

Radio Australia reports that the Australian Defence Force is investigating the theft of Fretilin flags. A defence spokeswoman says the flags were taken while the group was passing through the village of Bercoli on their way to Baucau, which lies east of the capital, Dili.

Australian troops returned one of the flags on Saturday, while the others were returned on Sunday.

The spokeswoman also said that “the removal of any flag without permission is wrong and culturally insensitive.”

Bano said the incidents could not be excused as the actions of misguided individual soldiers, and that the two episodes confirm Australian bias against Fretilin.

"The trashing of Fretilin flags is yet another demonstration of the partisan nature of the [Australian prime minister John] Howard government's military intervention in East Timor," Bano said,

Fretilin has long charged that Australia has an interest in East Timor's politics which is linked to the disputed gas and oil reserves located in the seabed that separates the two countries.

According to Fretilin, Canberra has played a role in the instability that led to the removal of former prime minister Mari Alkatiri last year.

Alkatiri is credited with having driven a hard bargain with Australia over some of the disputed resources held within the so-called Greater Sunrise field, the largest known petroleum resource in the Timor Sea.

Greater Sunrise will soon be jointly exploited and is expected to produce an estimated 20 billion dollars in revenue over its lifetime.

A treaty allowing the field to be exploited was signed in Sydney 18 months ago. Controversially, this prevents both countries from pursuing maritime boundary claims for 50 years.

Under international law, the field belongs almost exclusively to East Timor.

Besides Greater Sunrise, Dili accuses Canberra of having exploited other oil and gas fields that belong to East Timor.

Lao Hamutuk, an East Timorese non-governmental organisation, claims that Australia has earned 1.42 billion dollars in government revenues from the Laminaria-Corallina field. Although it is twice as close to East Timor as it is to Australia, the field is solely exploited by Australia.

The field that started operating in 1999 and is now 75 percent depleted.

Tensions have risen again in East Timor after the 30 June legislative elections failed to produce a single outright winner. Fretilin won the largest number of parlimentary seats - 21 out of 65.

Fretilin, formerly the ruling party, has rejected as illegal president Jose Ramos Horta's appointment two weeks ago of Gusmao as the new prime minister.

Freitlin has claimed it has the right to form a government rather than Gusmao and his new party, the National Committee for the Reconstruction of East Timor (CNRT) - Fretilin's rival - in an alliance with several coalition parties.

Last year's outbreak of deadly ethnic violence in East Timor was widely attributed to poor leadership by Fretilin, especially its secretary-general, Mari Alkatiri, who was East Timor's prime minister at the time.

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