Subject: SMH: Gusmao gives UN team a serve: 'We don't want a legacy of cars'

Sydney Morning Herald October 10, 2000

Gusmao gives UN team a serve: 'We don't want a legacy of cars'


The East Timor independence leader, Mr Xanana Gusmao, has launched a stinging public attack on the United Nations mission, accusing it of failing to engage East Timorese in the transitional process to independence.

In a speech yesterday, which summarised the results of the August national congress of the CNRT (National Council of Timorese Resistance), Mr Gusmao warned of more difficult times ahead for East Timor.

He accused the UN of tokenism, and savaged his political opponents for undermining the development of democracy in East Timor.

The CNRT grouping, with Mr Gusmao as its elected president, comprises pro-independence bodies and political parties formed to co-ordinate the struggle for independence from Indonesia.

The establishment of an East Timor Transitional Government has diminished its importance although it continues to be an important focus of East Timorese independence aspirations.

"We are not interested in a legacy of cars and laws, nor are we interested in a legacy of development plans for the future designed by [people] other than East Timorese," Mr Gusmao said in a reference to the hundreds of white UN four-wheel-drive vehicles seen around Dili and the succession of regulations being passed by the UN transitional administration in East Timor.

"We are not interested in inheriting an economic rationale which leaves out the social and political complexity of East Timorese reality.

"Nor do we wish to inherit the heavy decision-making and project implementation mechanisms in which the role of the East Timorese is to give their consent as observers rather than the active players we should start to be."

The freewheeling lifestyles of UN international staff and expatriates enjoying high salaries and allowances was contrasted with the poor living conditions of most East Timorese still recovering from last year's militia violence, which left most of the country looking like a war zone.

"We will not yield to hardship just because we are aware of other institutions that can pay their staff handsomely and offer numerous benefits," he said.

Mr Gusmao's political opponents in the Timor Democratic Union and Fretilin parties were singled out for a lashing.

Noticeably absent from the meeting was Mari Alkatiri and Lu'olo, the senior officials from Fretilin, East Timor's biggest political party.

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