Subject: LUSA: Fourth Attempt to Resolve Dili Market Chaos

East Timor: Fourth Attempt to Resolve Dili Market Chaos 8 Feb-20:31

East Timor's UN authorities plan to end reigning chaos at Dili's central market by transferring many vendors to two other city markets.

The initiative is the fourth such attempt by the UN transition administration (UNTAET). A UN spokesperson said that more than 1100 vendors had signed agreements to transfer to the Becora and Comoro markets. Rebuilt several months ago, they had remained empty because few East Timorese were willing to abandon the sprawling municipal market in central Dili.

The market question has proved a major controversy and headache for municipal authorities in Dili, whose population has more than doubled since the Aug. 1999 independence plebiscite.

The transfer was initially held up by delays in building the alternative markets. At present, one of the main obstacles is the public opposition of a number of prominent East Timorese, among them Avelino Coelho, president of the Timorese Socialist Party.

Japanese humanitarian agencies that donated more than euros 1 million to rebuild the Becora and Comoro markets recently manifested their "disappointment" over the situation, other UN sources told Lusa.

"The truth is that, after making the investment, some East Timorese continued to boycott or not help the transfer of vendors", one source said.

Before the plebiscite, practically all trade in Dili was concentrated within the walls of the central market, which was completely destroyed in the weeks of post-ballot violence.

It has since grown out of its original boundaries, with market stalls crowding sidewalks and nearby streets, congesting one of Dili's busiest areas.

The problem has been compounded by the stink of rotting garbage, illegal trade and crime. Some of the most violent incidents since the plebiscite have taken place during confrontations between rival groups in or near the market, which is extremely difficult to police.

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