Subject: UNMIT Daily Media Review - 15 May 2008


(International news reports and extracts from national media. UNMIT does not vouch for the accuracy of these reports)

ADB: Food crisis may create violence in TL. FAO-WFP ready to help – Timor Post and Diario Nacional

An economist with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), Craig Sugden, has found that the high price of food will put thousands at risks in the Pacific region this year and may create violence in Timor-Leste.

Mr. Sugden said that food and maize prices might be twice as high in the Pacific region this year and could hit Timor-Leste and Fiji badly.

He said that the UN WFP had provided emergency assistance to 300,000 Timorese people last year and these numbers seemed to be on the increase.

"It is difficult to say [how many] as we do not know how the governments [in the Pacific region] will react. I would not say hundreds of thousands, but I would say that tens of thousands of people are at risk in 2008," said economist Sugden.

Economist Sugden also said that many people will become poorer in the Pacific region and Timor-Leste may face new violence that would be happened.

"This is a deep concern, a big problem that poor people will face … which might create risk and instability," he added.

FAO-WFP ready to help Timor-Leste Government

At the UNMIT press briefing held in Obrigado Barracks on Wednesday (14/5), Acting Special Representative of Secretary-General (SRSG) Finn Reske-Nielsen said that FAO and WFP are ready to support the government to secure food in Timor-Leste. He said he believed the country would not starve as the high food prices are a global problem and not only found in Timor-Leste.

Acting SRSG Reske-Nielsen said that the government has 7,500 tonnes of rice in stock in Timor-Leste and a further 16,000 tonnes are being imported. 2,500 tonnes have arrived from Vietnam and a further 3,800 tonnes are expected this week with the remainder due in the near future.

He went on to say that Timor-Leste currently produces 40,000 metric tonnes of rice per year and imports between 50 to 60,000 tonnes – 30 per cent of the rice consumed is grown in the country.

Mr. Reske-Nielsen also said that in next few weeks the UN will work with Timor-Leste Government through the commission of national food security to find out a medium and long term solution for the problem.

Meanwhile, the Chief of WFP in Timor-Leste Joan Fleuren said that the imported food is being used to stabilize the market prices as prices have really increased in Timor-Leste.

He said that the price in Timor-Leste is not as high as in other countries because the government is trying to stabilize market prices by selling rice below cost.

A source from UNMIT said that Timorese people will not starve. There alternative food, such as maize and cassava to consume during lean times.

Carrascalão: ASDT should withdraw the accord with Fretilin – Timor Post

Social Democratic Party (PSD) President, Mario Viegas Carrascalão said that ASDT should call off its accord with Fretilin signed on 1 May 2008 to strengthen its block in the AMP.

Mr. Carrascalão said that it is difficult to reconcile two different things (AMP block and the platform of ASDT-Fretilin) because the opposition is always opposing the existing government.

"AMP is ruling the government. We cannot become members of AMP and at the same time we have an accord with the opposition. He [Uncle Xavier] wants to be in AMP or he leaves," said Mr. Carrascalão on Wednesday (14/5) in the National Parliament, Dili.

Ed: long-life impunity – Diario Nacional

The recent statement of President José Ramos-Horta that he intends to give pardon to 80 prisoners, including former Minister of Interior Rogerio Tiago Lobato, became the subject of discussion within the community.

Some say that he is deserves to be pardoned because of his contribution to independence of the country. Others say that he should service his prison sentence as punishment.

For those who say that Rogerio does not deserve a pardon also say that the leaders are trying to destroy the judicial system in Timor-Leste and allow a climate of impunity to grow in this new born country.

The decision of the president to pardon former Minister Interior Lobato is a political intervention by the president in the judicial system, as the reduction of a prisoner's sentence can only be made by a joint recommendation from Public Ministry, Tribunal, and Minister of Justice to the president for a decision.

What are the criteria used by the president to pardon Mr. Lobato?

If the decision to pardon 80 prisoners is implemented, then the judicial system of this country will be in disarray. A new president could pardon a family member who has been convicted and imprisoned.

The law is so strong for the small people, while the leaders tread all over it. We may yell and screaming at justice but nothing will change as the authority is in the president's hands.

As a man who wants justice, we should start first with reducing the sentence before granting a pardon. We wait …

UNDERTIM joining AMP: Fretilin salutes positively – Suara Timor Lorosa'e

Fretilin just made a coalition with ASDT for the future and gives positive reaction as UNDERTIM joins AMP block.

"It is good for all of us to think about what the alliance is, so we could not only criticize the alliance formed by Fretilin and ASDT," said Fretilin Vice President Arsenio Bano on Wednesday (14/5) in the National Parliament, Dili.

Mr. Bano said that the ASDT-Fretilin alliance is formed to combat corruption, collusion and nepotism, but the alliance of AMP is to strengthen themselves to get more power to rule.

Separately, ASDT President Francisco Xavier do Amaral said that the coalition of Fretilin and ASDT was established for the future.

Taur Matan Ruak: JOC's destiny is in the State's hands – Suara Timor Lorosa'e and Televisaun Timor-Leste

The General Commander of F-FDTL Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak said that the decision to continue or end the mandate of the Joint Operation Command (JOC) of F-FDTL and PNTL is in the hands of the State.

Related to the spread of illegal weapons in the societies of Timor-Leste, Commander Taur Matan Ruak said that they are still waiting for the decision of the Government about the mandate of the JOC.

"We are still waiting the decision of continuing the JOC or not. If the operation is stopped then what should we do … we are still waiting for the decision," said Commander Ruak after the high level meeting on Wednesday (14/5) in the Presidential Palace, Farol Dili.

UNDERTIM: to have position in the AMP Government – Diario Nacional

The UNDERTIM party who just signed accord to join AMP may receive one position in the government.

The President of the National Parliament Fernando Lasama de Araujo said that based upon the accord, the party who joined AMP has a possibility to have post in the government, including UNDERTIM.

"Political parties who are part of AMP should be involved in running the government; it has to be decided whether as a Minister, Vice Prime Minister, or State Secretary of Prime Minister," said Mr. Lasama on Wednesday (14/5).


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