Subject: Local Media Monitoring - April 29, 2003




1. President Xanana Gusmao has won the 2003 "Road to Peace Prize". The final decision was announced by the Vatican's Ambassador to the United Nations, Monsignor Celestino Migliore yesterday in New York. The Prize is awarded by the Vatican's International Fundraising Foundation. In the announcement Monsignor Migliore said that Mr Xanana Gusmao was chosen, because of his untiring efforts defending Timor-Leste's human rights, during the struggle for independence. Mr Xanana Gusmao will receive the award on June 12 (the venue was not cited).

2. President Xanana Gusmao and UN authorities yesterday opened a new facility at Batugade to streamline immigration, police and border patrol operations along the border with West Timor. The security facility was built by soldiers from Australia's 57 battalion based in Darwin, and funded largely by Britain. Australian Lieutenant Colonel Michael Lean says the UN is now in the process of relinquishing control of the border to the East Timorese. "The significance is that the UN is no longer responsible for maintaining that border," he said. "By building this facility and assisting with the training we're giving the East Timorese people the chance to actually take control and carry out those normal government functions.


1.In the plenary session of the National Parliament, four Opposition Parties (ASDT, PD, UDT and KOTA), yesterday launched a "political declaration". The declaration is to recognise Mr Francisco Xavier do Amaral as the first President and the Proclaimer of the Independence of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, appointed by the Comite Central da FRETILIN on November 28, 1975. According to Opposition Parties, their political declaration were intended to avoid misinterpretation and fragmentation of Timor-Leste's history once the "Restoration of Independence" was formally adopted in the Timor-Leste Constitution.

2. During the commemoration of the Timor-Leste Youth Easter Jubilee in Uatulari on last Saturday, Prime Minister, Mr Mari Alkatiri said "We must respect the Church". Mr Alkatiri made this statement to counter rumours saying that the Government is against the Church. Mr Mari Alkatiri declared that "it was crazy" to think that the Government is against the Catholic Church as 95% of Timor Leste's population is Catholic.

3. During the inaguration ceremony of the new security facility in Batugade yesterday, President Xanana Gusmao said "We still face a lot of challenges ahead in the areas of economics, social issues and politics. The entire nation needs to be cooperative at this crucial moment (STL did not explain in detail the challenges described by the President).

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