Subject: UNMISET Daily Media Review 4 May 2005

UNMISET Daily Press Review

Compiled by the Public Information Office from national and international sources

Daily Media Review Wednesday, 4 May 2005

TL police rule out force to disperse protestors

Timor-Leste’s police will not use force to disperse peaceful anti-government protestors who have gathered for the past two weeks outside of government offices in the capital Dili. Interior Minister Rogerio Lobato said his ministry had written to the nation’s powerful Roman Catholic Church, which has backed the protests, to ask that it put an end to the demonstrations.

“This request has been turned down by the protestors. We are going to find a way to get out of the situation without the use of force,” he said in an interview with Lisbon-based Radio Renascenca. “The police are not going to use force to force them to leave.”

Yesterday, Timor-Leste’s capital braced for the possibility of clashes between police and anti-government Catholic demonstrators, but a police deadline for the end of the street protests passed without any confrontation.

The President’s Chief of Staff, Agio Pereira, told Lusa news agency that Prime Minister had responded positively to a presidential initiative to reconsider plans to demote religion classes in public schools and that President Gusmão was awaiting a response from the country’s two Catholic bishops.

Meanwhile, police Chief Superintendent Paulo Martins met with UN officials, foreign diplomats and government officials, giving them assurances that police forces did not plan to move against the demonstrators.

The spokesman for Dili’s Catholic Church diocese, Vicar-General Apolinário Guterres said the protests, involving several thousand people, would “end when it has to end and not because of police ultimatums”. While he acknowledged that there had been some violence related to the demonstration, these were isolated incidents and the majority of the demonstrators had shown good behaviour in the two weeks of the demonstration. He said that he welcomed the extra security provided at the demonstration by the PNTL and that the Church will continue to hold a dialogue with the government to resolve this issue.

The police have set up more security posts and placed barbed wire in the vicinity of the demonstration to prevent people from entering the area of the demonstration. (AFP, Lusa, STL, Timor Post)

1500 demonstrators fall ill

Approximately 1500 participants at the Church-led demonstration have fallen ill, with coughs, colds and fever. A member of the Pastoral Commission in charge of health at the demonstration said that the amount of dust and the sleeping conditions were causing many of the demonstrators to fall ill and some of the demonstrators had also begun to show signs of malaria. The spokesperson said that medical staff are always on standby to carry out consultations on sick people and to decide whether they need to be taken to hospital for treatment.

Meanwhile, STL reports that 20 sick demonstrators returned to their home district of Same yesterday and were replaced by another 40 from the Same Parish. (STL)

Hasegawa ready to lead new mission

Special Representative of the Secretary General in Timor-Leste, Sukehiro Hasegawa, said that he is prepared to lead the new UN mission (UNOTIL) in Timor-Leste if the Secretary General Kofi Annan requests him to do so. Speaking to journalists after a meeting with Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, Hasegawa said that this new mission needs a senior person as its leader. He said that his relationship with Timorese leaders is very good and it is another reason why it is possible that he be made head of the new mission, which will run until 20 May 2006. (Timor Post)

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