Subject: East Timor Press Headlines/4April2001

Bahasa Indonesia Headlines ­ Wednesday 4 April 2001

1. Xanana Gusmao Explains His Reasons For Quitting NC 
2. Xanana Resigned As Both NC President And Member 
3. Xanana Resigns, Refugees In A Quandary 
4. Journalists Boycott NC Sitting 
5. NC Members’ Comments On Sharon Craven’s Actions

1. Xanana Gusmao Explains His Reasons For Quitting NC (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page headline)

The President of CNRT/CN Xanana Gusmao finally explained his reason for quitting the National Council and said his resignation was aimed at making the point that the various organs cannot just pin their hopes on one individual.

Xanana’s clarification was in a message to an international conference on Timor Lorosae, currently being held at the University of Minho in north Portugal.

“Working within a framework in a transitional body has taught the National Council members a lot of lessons. These lessons will be very useful for us in the whole political process. The NC members now must realize their how to carry their responsibilities,” said Xanana in his message read out by his envoy, Roque Rodrigues.

Xanana stressed in his message that one important process towards the path of independence is political realization.

“I believe that the work priority, with regard to clarifying matters to the people, must be with the people in the districts ­ outside Dili. This matter needs most attention. My present position does not allow me to fulfil this role,” said Xanana.

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2. Xanana Resigned Both As NC President And Member (Suara Timor Lorosae, Front Page second lead)

The question on whether Xanana Gusmao has resigned both as NC President and a member has already been answered. It is clear that he has resigned from both positions, said UNTAET spokesperson Barbara Reis at a press conference yesterday.

According to Barbara, Xanana Gusmao had tendered his resignation as far back as last September but Transitional Administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello made a request that he defer his withdrawal from the National Council.

Because of that, when last week Xanana tendered his resignation again, Sergio de Mello accepted it.

Barbara said Xanana resigned both as a member of the NC and its president. Because of that, she said Sergio de Mello chose Jose Ramos Horta to replace Xanana.

She stressed that Sergio de Mello’s choice of Ramos Horta was not as NC President but as a member of the National Council to replace Xanana’s position.

“Ramos Horta was chosen not as the NC head, but as a NC member. The issue of electing the President of the NC lies with the National Council members and not with Sergio de Mello. In accordance with the agenda of the National Council, the election of the president will be this coming Monday [9 April],” said Barbara.

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3. Xanana Resigns, Refugees In A Quandary (Timor Post, Front Page headline)

The resignation of Xanana Gusmao as National Council President could jeopardize the position of refugees currently in camps in West Timor.

This was stated yesterday by the Secretary-General of Uni Timor Aswain (UNTAS), Filomeno de Jesus Hormay in Kupang.

According to Filomeno, Xanana’s resignation could have a psychological effect of his [UNTAS] followers. This was because many UNTAS followers believed Xanana was the best person to lead the future Timor Lorosae.

Filomeno said he hoped the people of Timor Lorosae could forget the past. He added he was pessimistic about reconciliation because it was not happening fast enough.

“There’s still discrimination against pro-integration people returning to Timor Lorosae,” he said.

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4. Journalists Boycott NC Sitting (Page 2 headline) *Session postponed for 30 minutes

Journalists, whose profession is to link the people with the news, have been treated harshly by the National Council Secretariat.

The unfair incident occurred on Monday at about 10:15 am at the NC Hall when the sitting was in session. The session that day, chaired by Avelino Coelho, was attended by the more than usual local and foreign journalists.

The issue on the agenda was the resignation of Xanana Gusmao as National Council President. But when the session started, the debate was dominated by personal views of NC members on Xanana’s resignation. Because of that, both the local and international press paid close attention to the proceedings.

Seeing the large number of journalists covering the NC sitting, Ms Sharon Craven become agitated. She immediately forced journalists from Reuters, TVTL and AP to remove their TV cameras which they had placed facing the front of the National Council members.

When they refused, she forcefully carried the cameras and chased the journalists out of the NC Hall.

That action by the NC Secretariat was taken seriously by the journalists present. About 30 journalists, both local and foreign, who were covering the sitting decided to stage a walkout.

“We have all decided not to cover the NC sitting if this problem is not solved,” said a senior journalist.

The walk-out was then tackled by the chairman of the sitting, Avelino Coelho. He adjourned the sitting for 30 minutes to meet with the protesting journalists outside the NC Hall.

Avelino apoligized on behalf of the National Council and the actions taken by a member of the NC Secretariat, Ms Sharon Craven. He then invited all the journalists to return to the NC Hall and told them they would be free to cover the proceedings.

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5. NC Members’ Comments On Sharon Craven’s Actions (Page 2, second lead)

Aniceto Guterres:

“I have always defended freedom of the press. If the journalists decide to lodge an official complaint, I will put forward a motion in the National Council for the NC to formally apologize to them.

“Only the chairman of the sitting has the right to regulate the conduct of the session and not the secretariat. The secretariat only fixes the agenda. So power in the NC lies in the hands of the chairman and the NC members.

“We are in an era of press freedom and moreover the session on Monday was not closed to the media.”

Clementino Dos Reis Amaral:

“Journalists have always been welcomed to cover the National Council sittings and as far as I know they have always been allowed to enter the NC Hall. I really don’t know what happened on Monday.

“Journalists are important for us. Both the country and also the international community need to know what is being discussed here in the National Council.

“The behaviour of a member of the NC Secretariat is not acceptable ­ that’s irresponsible behavior. The person who did that to the journalists probably has never worked before in a parliament. Let me stress again that journalists are important; just as important as the NC members.”

Avelino Coelho:

“In my private and official capacity I apologize for what happened on Monday. Journalists are important for us because they are our link to the people.

“The NC members are representatives of the people and for that reason the people have to know what we are discussing here. And the only way for them to know is through journalists’ reports.

“So what’s expected out of the NC members? Must we now go out of the NC Hall and talk to the people? That’s the duty of the press.”

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