|Subject: East Timor headlines/21 Feb 2001
1. Cancio Lopez Has To Be Treated With Caution (Timor Post, Front Page headline)
The failure of Monday’s reconciliation talks between the people’s representatives from Ainaro and former militia leader Cansio Lopez and his followers, in the town of Salele in Suai, has disappointed deeply the people of Ainaro.
The Ainaro people were of the view that the non-attendance of Cansio and his followers went against their good intentions and UNTAET’s efforts to initiate reconciliation. Because of this, the political feelers put out by Cansio and his followers should be treated with suspect.
The National Council member from Ainaro, Alexander Xavier Araujo, said the Ainaro people waited for six hours, at Salele, for Cansio and his followers to show up. In the end, he said, they felt deeply disappointed when the meeting was cancelled.
According to Xavier, for the Ainaro people reconciliation was very important to revive the feeling of cooperation and togetherness among themselves.
“The people have decided to put behind them the murders and pillage but look at what has happened. Their good intentions have amounted to nothing,” said Xavier.
In future talks, Xavier said, the Ainro people would not go to the border at Salele, Suai. Instead, he said, Cansio and his followers must come to Ainaro and talk directly to them.
2. Ex Falintils Receive Aid From IOM (Timor Post, Page 2 lead)
Ex-Falintils who return back to live with their families will receive a monthly allowance of USD100 each for a year. This is the assistance given by the Falintil Reintegration and Assistance Program (FRAP).
The head of the IOM mission in East Timor, Christopher Gascon, said at a press conference yesterday that the FRAP was sponsored by USAid/OTI and other international donors. IOM, he said, was the implementing partner.
The FRAP, said Gascon, intended to lift the burdens and hardship experienced by the veterans in starting their new lives as civilians.
The FRAP started on 2 February when the resistance force was officially dissolved, in accordance with a King’s College report, and the National Defense Forces (FDTL) formed. Some 650 ex-Falintil members have been selected to be the first soldiers in the FDTL.
Gascon advised the Falintil veterans who were FRAP recipients, not to brandish their weapons or introduce themselves as military members. These acts, he said, would cause them to lose their FRAP benefits.
3. President Xanana Active Again (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page headline)
The President of CNRT/CN, Xanana Gusmao, returned back to the country yesterday from Singapore, where he was undergoing a medical checkup. His arrival in Dili was sooner than expected.
However, there still has not been any official announcement on the president’s health.
Dr Sergio Lobo, one of Xanana’s doctors, said there wasn’t anything worrying about the president’s health.
4. June 20, Deadline For Voter Registration (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page, second lead)
The National Council today will debate on fixing 20 June 2001 as the deadline for voter registration in the 30 August 2001 general election.
If the date is agreed upon, this means that refugees in West Timor and East Timorese living overseas would have to be back in the country before the date or risk not being able to vote in the Timor Lorosae’s first elections.
“If the date of 20 June is agreed upon, this means all those who do not register as voters will lose their rights,” said National Council member Clementino dos Reis Amaral.
Amaral added the National Council made a suggestion that voter registration be only carried out in the country and not overseas because of financial constraints.
“That means those overseas who are not back in time to register will lose their voice,” he added.
5. A New Diocese In Same (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page side-bar story)
Catholic priests and nuns will be meeting in Dili today to discuss the setting up of a new diocese in Same, Manufahi district.
They would also be discussing preparations for the building of a cathedral and a residence for the new bishop in Manufahi. The new diocese will come about when Timor Lorosae is independent.
The Same diocese will be Timor Lorosae’s first diocese and will cover Same, Ainaro, Covalima and Aileu.
6. PKF Engineers Help Timorese Society (Suara Timor Lorosae, Page 2 lead)
(A feature on the Bangladesh Engineering Battalion)
The PKF engineers have been busy with the onslaught of the rainy season, where floods and landslides are common. They have been helping the East Timorese people by dredging rivers so that flood waters can be carried away with minimal damage done to livestock and property.
7. Bishop Basilio’s Advice: Be Patient (Suara Timor Lorosae editorial, Page 5)
In the public hearing last Saturday at the National Council Hall, Baucau Bishop Basilio Nascimento urged the people and leaders of Timor Lorosae to do something quite difficult: be patient. Bishop Basilio also reminded the people and the country’s leaders that the path to independence is not instantaneous. What was more important, he said, were the preparations and readiness of the people for independence.
Bishop Basilio was quite accurate when he said there were joint successes with UNTAET over the past 17 months. Leaving aside the many problems, things can be seen here. For instance, there are many schools, now, in the districts. The National University of Timor Lorosae is already functioning as an intellectual center. Though there are problems with the power supply, nevertheless it still functions and hopefully things will get better by July 2001. We now have piped water and hopefully that too will improve. And many others.
Bishop Basilio made a point when he said the reason why we were not satisfied was that information on the successes was slow to getting to the people. In connection with this, we feel that UNTAET and ETTA must reevaluate their media. Radio UNTAET, for instance, must make their programs more interactive and also more radio sets need to be distributed to the people.
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