Subject: UNMISET Daily Media Review 27 April 2005

[Poster's note: Long repeats of international articles already sent out to the east-timor list have been removed.]

UNMISET Daily Press Review

Compiled by the Public Information Office from national and international sources

Daily Media Review Wednesday, 27 April 2005

TL Prime Minister open to reversal in religious class row with church

Timor-Leste’s Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri has announced that his government may go back on a decision to end compulsory religious classes in state schools, a reversal demanded by protests backed by the Catholic Church. “The world is made up of changes, a static world does not develop,” the Prime Minister told Lisbon-based Radio Renascenca when asked if the government would change its controversial policy.

“The decision was not mine, although everyone is laying all the blame on me because I am the Prime Minister. The decision was made by the Cabinet so any change would have to be made by the Cabinet,” he added in an interview with the Catholic radio station.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta said that the dispute between the Church and government appears to “be reaching an end” after he held talks with a senior clergyman. Following talks with Bishop Basílio do Nascimento of Baucau, Ramos-Horta said that he was “convinced that given this possibility of an opening, there will be a conclusion to this episode in the next 48 hours”.

STL reports that PNTL Operational Commander Ismael da Costa Babo has labelled the demonstration as provocative in nature and therefore not peaceful. He said that the declarations and accusations launched by the protestors in the last few days have the potential to provoke instability and thus the police have asked the protestors not to make similar statements in the future. (AFP, Lusa, STL)

FRETILIN questions presence of foreigners at demonstration

Head of the FRETILIN in the Parliament, Francisco Branco, has questioned the presence of foreigners at the demonstration, which continues today in front of the government palace. He said that their presence violates the immigration law, which specifically prohibits foreigners from participating in anti-government demonstrations in Timor-Leste. Other FRETILIN members in the Parliament said that Father Venancio’s invitation on the first day of the demonstration calling for all Catholics to take part in the demonstration could be considered an invitation for foreign Catholics to also take part. If they do, they could be breaking the law and may be charged as such, according to the discussion in Parliament on the issue. (STL)

Shooting incident triggers suspicions in Indonesia

The Indonesian press reports that the Commander of the Wirasakti Provincial Military Command in Kupang, Colonel Amir Hamka Manan, has accused Timor-Leste of violating the norms practiced by neighbouring countries following the shooting of an Indonesian military lieutenant by officers of the Timor-Leste Border Patrol Unit earlier this month.

Manan has accused the BPU of planning the shooting in order to provide cover for the smugglers whom they were chasing. He said that he hoped Timor-Leste’s Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri would release the name of the perpetrators and apologize to Indonesia for the incident. Manan was also reported as saying that the first shooting incident of an Indonesian soldier in Indonesian territory signified that there is a threat from Timor-Leste’s side of the border. (Timor Post)

UNMISET to hold symposium

The United Nations Mission of Support in Timor-Leste will hold a large international symposium this week to reflect on its peacekeeping operations in Timor-Leste since 1999. The two-day symposium will be attended by prominent figures such as the United Nations Assistant Secretary General for Peacekeeping Operations, Mr. Hedi Annabi, Timor-Leste’s President Xanana Gusmao, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri and other government ministers. International organizations, representatives from the diplomatic community and representatives from civil society and academia will also attend the symposium. Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Timor-Leste, Sukehiro Hasegawa said that the aim of the symposium is to reflect on the United Nations and its partner organisations’ contributions to Timor-Leste and also to identify future challenges to further develop a democratic and peaceful nation. (STL)

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