Subject: UNMISET Daily Media Review 4 April 2005

UNMISET Daily Press Review

Compiled by the Public Information Office from national and international sources

Daily Media Review Monday, 4 April 2005

Timor-Leste to honour Pope with statue and three days of mourning

Timor-Leste has declared three days of mourning following the passing of Pope John Paul II. The government also announced that it would build a statue honouring the man who championed the impoverished country’s fight for independence, which according to the Prime Minister, will be constructed in Tasi Tolu.

Yesterday, the streets of the capital Dili were deserted as many crammed into houses of people with radio or television sets to hear news of the pontiff, who lost his battle with illness late Saturday night. With flags flying at half-mast outside all government buildings, Prime Minister Alkatiri said that he had sent condolences on behalf of the people of Timor-Leste.

The Pope is widely revered in Timor-Leste, where 90 per cent of the population is Catholic. He was a rare foreign visitor in the late 1980s during the country’s occupation by Indonesia. Independence activists used the spotlight on his 1989 visit to publicise their cause, storming a podium during one of his appearances and unfurling a banner objecting to Indonesia’s occupation.

Timor-Leste’s President, Xanana Gusmão, hailed the Pope’s tenacity in the face of his failing health, his dedication to peaceful causes and his support for Timor-Leste’s struggle for freedom. “Even though he was sick, he still managed to function as a Pope. That’s why all people from different countries and religions love him and feel lost. He always gave a message of peace, reconciliation and justice,” he said. “East Timor’s people will never forget the Pope’s visit here when he gave us a message of support in our struggle for independence,” he added.

Meanwhile, President Gusmão said that the government is currently considering whether to send a representative from Timor-Leste to the Vatican to participate in the Pope’s burial ceremony, an issue that will be decided by the National Parliament tomorrow. The government also said that they will arrange appropriate provisions for people of Timor-Leste to participate in any ceremonies being planned by the Dili and Baucau Church Dioceses. A special mass to be held for the pontiff will be announced soon by the two bishops of the country. (AFP, Kyodo, Timor Post, STL)

UN Security Council tipped to approve new mission for Timor-Leste

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste said that the United Nations Security Council is likely to endorse an extended UN presence in Timor-Leste. Speaking to reporters on Friday, Sukehiro Hasegawa said that he had reported to the Prime Minister that the Security Council will most likely approve the new peace-building mission to be created and to be stationed in Timor-Leste. Dr Hasegawa said that this new UN mission may be tasked with building government capacity, with the retention of civilian advisors (Kyodo, Timor Post)

Government ‘not brave enough’ to hold 2007 elections

The head of the Social Democratic Party, Mario Viegas Carrascalao, believes that the government of Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri is “not brave enough” to hold general elections in 2007. Carrascalao said that because the mechanisms that Fretilin established to hold the recent village elections are considered to have been unsuccessful, it is unlikely that there will be elections in 2007. He said that in 2007 the government will begin to create excuses of a technical nature as to why elections cannot be held. He added that if there is pressure from the international community, then possibly there will still be elections. (STL)

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