Subject: Horta orders Investigation of East Timor's Civil Service

Ramos-Horta Orders Investigation of East Timor's Civil Service

July 21 (Bloomberg) -- Jose Ramos-Horta, East Timor's prime minister, ordered an investigation of civil servants, including possible cases of embezzlement and theft during unrest in the country that began in March.

``If we are to serve the poor of this country and develop our nation's economy, we must have a responsive, efficient, productive and honest civil service,'' Ramos-Horta said today in an e-mailed government statement. Serving the community ``must be the guiding principle'' for all government officials.

The probe, to be carried out by interim Inspector General Francisco de Carvalho, will include possible theft of government property during, before and after the unrest, misuse of government assets and inappropriate use of government fuel, according to the statement.

East Timor invited an international peacekeeping force to the country to restore security after ethnic violence resulted in the deaths of 37 people and forced 155,000 people, or 15 percent of the population, from their homes. Ramos-Horta, who was appointed prime minister July 8, pledged to end corruption and ``restore faith'' in state institutions.

The country of about 1 million people last month asked the United Nations to send a peacekeeping force of about 870 security personnel to maintain law and order as it prepares for presidential and parliamentary elections in 2007. A force of 2,500 soldiers and police from Australia, New Zealand, Portugal and Malaysia arrived in the capital, Dili, in May.

Australia's government said yesterday it withdrew 200 soldiers and a navy warship from its contingent of 1,300 service personnel because security has improved. Security Forces

Ramos-Horta has pledged to rebuild East Timor's security forces that collapsed when 600 soldiers, about one-third of the country's armed personnel, were dismissed for desertion, an incident that provoked unrest between soldiers, police that spread to civilians.

East Timorese voted for independence in a 1999 referendum after a 24-year occupation by Indonesia, which invaded the territory when it was a Portuguese colony in 1975. The country, which became independent in May 2002, lies about 500 kilometers (310 miles) north of Australia. The UN has been operating in East Timor since 1999, helping organize elections and the creation of government institutions.

Ramos-Horta said July 10 his government will make eradicating poverty in rural areas a priority. Economic growth will have to start with the agriculture industry, which employs nearly three-quarters of the labor force, the UN Development Program said in a report in March. East Timor grows coffee, rice and maize among its agricultural produce.

Funds from oil and gas will help reduce poverty by one-third by 2015 provided they are used for rural development, education, health care and job training, the report said. East Timor's per capital yearly income is $370, it said.

East Timor and Australia in January signed an accord to split royalties from the Sunrise gas field in the Timor Sea, operated by Australia's Woodside Petroleum Ltd. The accord will provide revenue of about $4 billion over the project's life.

To contact the reporter on this story: Paul Tighe in Sydney at

Francisco da Costa Guterres Fellow in Law and Politics Timor Institute of Development Studies (TIDS)/ETSG Dili, East Timor Ph. +670 723 9876; Dept. of International Business and Asian Studies Griffith Business School Griffith University QLD 4111 Australia + 61 (0) 409 353 363

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