Subject: LUSA: Gusmao to Head Planning Commission After Elections - Ramos Horta

20 Aug 01 21:01 East Timor: Gusmao to Head Planning Commission After Elections - Ramos Horta

East Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusmao is expected to head the economic strategic planning commission currently under study by UNTAET chief Sergio Vieira de Mello, Jose Ramos Horta told Lusa on Monday.

The transition cabinet's top diplomat said the new structure, whose status has not been finalized, will likely be jointly headed by Mari Alkatiri, number two in the Fretilin party hierarchy and until last month the territory's economy minister.

"Given the portfolio held by Mari Alkatiri and given Xanana's involvement in the planning question, they are the right people for this function", Ramos Horta said.

"It is a structure that aims to prepare a document on East Timor's short and middle term strategic development, and should include East Timorese from the most diverse sectors", he added.

The format of the commission, to be set up after the August 30 Constituent Assembly elections, remains to be determined, namely whether or not it will be independent of the executive government, and if it will primarily play an advisory role.

As head of the now-extinct CNRT umbrella resistance organization, Xanana Gusmao led East Timor's struggle for independence during the Indonesian occupation, which ended in 1999.

The territory has since been governed by UNTAET (UN Transition Administration in East Timor), which has a mandate to oversee the transition to full independence.

JBC -Lusa-

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