|Subject: UNOTIL Daily Media Review 24 June
- 26 June 2006
Compiled by the Public Information Office from national and international sources
Daily Media Review Saturday, 24 June, Monday 26 June 2006
National Media Reports
Population do not accept Gusmão’s Intention to Resign
President Xanana Gusmão’s intention of resigning following his message to Fretilin party on Thursday (22/6) was not accepted by the majority of the population, the media reported on Friday. According to the media, members of the population reportedly blame Prime Minister Alkatiri for the latest crisis expressing that he should be the one to resign.
In a separate article, Timor Post reported that Members and staff of the National Parliament were not in sight when demonstrators occupied the main road to the building Friday, claiming they were stopping the activities of the MPs as they were not in defence of the people but of each political or group interest, reported TP Saturday.
Addressing the crowd Friday, President Gusmão appealed to the demonstrators to obey the rules with dignity adding “I appeal to you all not to damage not even kill an ant. The Timorese people have their own thinking and wishes, which are sacred and want to sit in harmony and strengthen peace and love in this country. My ears are open to listen to you,” President Gusmão told the protestors.
In the meantime the spokesperson for the Australian Defence Force in Timor-Leste, Major Stone asked the demonstrators to cooperate with the forces and not to impede the activities of the Government and the National Parliament, in order to resolve the current crisis, the media reported Saturday. According to STL, Stone also told the protesters they were free to continue their protest with leadership and discipline as the would guarantee security (STL, TP)
We will try to support the farmers again: Minister Da Silva
Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture Estanislau da Silva, appeals for those people who had removed computers and seeds from his ministry to return them as the computers had important data relevant for the current and future planning. Da Silva said the seeds were to be distributed to the farmers who are already facing difficulties and without them their lives would worst off than now. He added that they are trying to find assistance to replace the stolen seeds. (TP)
F-FDTL doing good work in the eastern area
Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation as well as Defence, José Ramos-Horta reportedly praised the work F-FDTL is doing in the eastern part by encouraging people in possession of weapons to hand them in, and collecting them. Ramos-Horta stressed that his visit to Baucau area last Tuesday (20/6) was to visit F-FDTL Headquarters and meet with commander, Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak and attend the Inter-Religious Conference in that District.
With the meeting with Taur Matan Ruak, Ramos-Horta continued to appeal for them to continue to work together even under the current difficult circumstances. He also praised the courage of the Armed Forces as when the government gave orders for F-FDTL to be involved in the conflict, they also suffered. Therefore he said as the Minister for Defence he will try to heal the wounds within the institution and work on reconciliation between F-FDTL, PNTL and the society. The Minister stressed he would slowly work with F-FDTL to re-organize themselves and modernize it but it would not be a priority.
According to Ramos-Horta the situation in Baucau is calm and the population has reacted with serenity although taking into account that many of them had lost their properties and were injured in the recent violence. He appealed to them to continue to maintain the same comportment and for everybody to continue to contribute for a good solution for Timor-Leste.
The Director of the Instituto Colegio Formação de Professor (ICFP) Brother Mark Paul said the visit of Minister Ramos-Horta is important in order for institutions and the people at the grassroots level to meet them.
UN is responsible for victims of Caikoli shootings
Families of the police victims shot on May 25 by F-FDTL after being disarmed by the United Nations Police (UNPOL) in PNTL Headquarters asks the UN to be responsible and demands the establishment of a monument for ‘victims defending stability Timor-Leste nation.’ The request came from families of the victims when they buried Manuel Amaral last Wednesday (21/6) in Raikotu cemetery. The families want the UN to open an investigation and find those responsible involved in the case and take it to court. They demand the UN the clearly clarify why they disarmed only PNTL and not F-FDTL who had guns in their hands and shot the PNTL officers who were already disarmed. They ask the UN to look after and take good care of the wounded ones, the widows and orphans of those killed as they considered the process still under the UN responsibility. The families claims they were all victims under the UN flag On Monday Timor Post reported families members, friends and work colleagues participated in a mass celebrated to mark one month following the shootings which killed some police officers in front of the Ministry of Justice building in Caicoli, Dili. SRSG Hasegawa, USA Ambassador for Timor-Leste, Joseph Grover Rees, UNPOL Commander and diplomatic corps were also present at the mass celebrated by Fr. Antonio Alves. Members of the victims have also expressed that would like to see justice done through the UN investigation commission. (STL)
Rogério states Mari aware of weapons distribution
Timor-Leste Prosecutor’s General, Longuinhos Monteiro reportedly said in the 72 hours revision audience for former Minister of Interior, Rogerio Lobato in Dili District Audience, Lobato had declared that Prime Minister Alkatiri was aware of the guns distribution to Railos group, reported Timor Post Monday. Monteiro told the media on Saturday that it is too soon to hold an investigation on Mari Alkatiri, adding the next step is put a questionnaire for Mari to answer as part of the criminal instruction phase.
In a separate article, Timor Post reported on the resignation of two ministers from the government: Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation and Defence José Ramos-Horta and Minister for Telecommunications Ovidio de Jesus Amaral. The advisor for Gender Promotion and Equality for the Prime Minister resigned Saturday.
Following President Gusmão appeal, on Saturday, some members of the population handed in guns to Longuinhos Monteiro and President Gusmão at his residential in Balibar. The weapons were handed in by civilians from Dili and Liquiça, totaling 10 guns, 1 pistol and 1610 ammunitions. (STL, TP)
SRSG appeals to President Gusmão not to resign
The media reported on SRSG appealed to President Gusmão not to resign saying “your continue presence is paramount for peace and stability in Timor-Leste”. In return President Gusmão extended his appreciation for SRSG Hasegawa’s appeal and to the UN Secretary General telephone call. In a separate article, Bishop of Baucau Diocese, Basilio do Nascimento reportedly said the decision of the President to resign must be difficult as he is the person that holds the national unity. (TP, STL)
Ana Pessoa: I’m ready to replace Alkatiri
Minister of State Ana Pessoa reportedly said she’s ready to replace Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri while her presence would contribute to resolve the crisis, reported Suara Timor Lorosae (STL) Monday. “If my presence would increase the problem then I refuse,” said Minister Pessoa. She added that Fretilin Central Committee (CCF) has not released the candidates for the Prime Minister position as it still under discussion. “I will go to CCF to discuss this matter in order to put an end to the latest problems,” Ana Pessoa told the media while in an official visit in Portugal. She added that the decision would be done by CCF but noted that upon her return to Dili, she has not heard of her candidacy for the position of Alkatiri. (STL)
Interational Media Reports
DILI, June 26, 2006 (AFP) - East Timor's outgoing foreign minister Jose Ramos-Horta said the resignation letter of the prime minister, who announced Monday he was quitting, was being delivered to the president.
Ramos-Horta, who quit his post as minister for both foreign affairs and defence on Sunday, said he had just spoken to Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri and the letter was "on its way" to the president.
Alkatiri announced his resignation at a press conference earlier, finally succumbing to escalating pressure to step down in the wake of bloody unrest that rocked the capital Dili in late May.
Ramos-Horta said President Xanana Gusmao -- who had himself threatened to resign if Alkatiri did not -- would start a consultation with all parties, but the ruling Fretilin party would recommend the new premier.
He said he would do the top job if persuaded. Ramos-Horta however is not a member of Fretilin and it was not clear if the party would consider him an acceptable candidate.
"My ambition in life has not been to be interim prime minister of this country or any country, so I am not interested in the job," he said.
But the Nobel peace laureate added: "I will do it, if I am persuaded that I am the only person that everyone else agrees with."
He listed a number of other current ministers who could do the job, including his former wife and minister for state Ana Pessoa, whom Alkatiri himself had hinted might be his successor.
The new government, once appointed, would have to present its program to parliament within 30 days, Ramos-Horta said.
One of its first tasks would be to approve the 415-million-dollar budget, including 100 million dollars in foreign aid -- already sent to parliament -- since the fiscal year ends January 30.
Ramos-Horta, who was the international face of East Timor's struggle for independence against Indonesia, said he was hopeful the country could move forward with strong leadership and recover from a "mess of our own creation".
He said elections should be held as planned in February or March next year and they should be held under the auspices of the United Nations.
He added that he would be happy for UN troops to stay for years to come if that was the alternative to "our people suffering again because of our misrule and our incompetence."
More than 2,200 foreign peacekeepers have been deployed in East Timor since late May, when street violence led to at least 21 deaths and sparked an exodus of nearly 150,000 terrified people from their homes.
Australia needs to seek a United Nations mandate for its 1,500 strong military and police deployment in East Timor as the tiny nation's political infrastructure crumbles, Labor says.
East Timor's unpopular Prime Minister, Mari Alkatiri, resigned Monday afternoon, only hours after the high profile foreign affairs and defence minister Jose Ramos Horta quit.
Last week President Xanana Gusmao threatened to resign himself unless Dr Alkatiri stepped down, although he later backed away from quitting.
Labor foreign affairs spokesman Kevin Rudd said the recent resignations strengthened the need for a UN Security Council resolution on East Timor, providing a mandate for Australia's deployment.
"(The) resignations come days after President Xanana Gusmao indicated he would resign if certain political conditions were not met," he said in a statement.
"While it remains uncertain what President Gusmao will do, his threat combined with the moves of Mr Ramos Horta and Dr Alkatiri places potential uncertainty on the current political and legal basis for Australia's deployment to East Timor."
Mr Rudd said the current deployment had been signed off with agreement by Dr Alkatiri, Mr Gusmao and the speaker of the parliament.
"With the resignation of the prime minister and questions remaining over the president's future, Australia's troop deployment could potentially find itself becoming the meat in the political sandwich in East Timor," he said.
"It also potentially runs the risk of having its mandate changed by any new government.
"It is for these reasons that Labor has been advocating the desirability of placing Australia's troop deployment on a more robust political and legal foundation by urging the Security Council to adopt a new resolution on East Timor."
Los Angeles Times
Resignation Further Roils East Timor's Political Crisis By Richard C. Paddock
Source: Los Angeles Times Date: June 26, 2006
JAKARTA, Indonesia -- East Timor's political crisis deepened Sunday as Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos-Horta resigned his dual posts as foreign and defense minister to protest the refusal of the ruling party to select a new leader.
Ramos-Horta's resignation could further undermine the government's international credibility as Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri hangs on to power despite allegations that he authorized the arming of hit squads to go after his critics, a charge he denies.
There have been widespread protests and numerous calls for Alkatiri to step down because of what is widely viewed as his mismanagement of the crisis. However, he received the renewed endorsement Sunday of the ruling Fretilin Party, which controls a majority of parliament.
Ramos-Horta, whose name has been floated as a possible successor as prime minister, resigned hours later saying he no longer wanted to be part of a government that included Alkatiri. Transportation Minister Ovideo Amaral also quit.
``I decided to resign from the government until a new government is established,'' Ramos-Horta said through a spokesman. ``I am ready to serve this nation in whatever position.''
East Timor, the world's youngest country, has been racked by violence for months following Alkatiri's decision to fire nearly half the army and call in troops loyal to him to crack down on his opponents in Dili, the capital.
More than 20 people died and scores of houses were torched before an international peacekeeping force led by Australia arrived last month to restore order. More than 100,000 civilians, a tenth of the country's population, have fled to refugee camps to escape the violence.
Among those who died were 10 unarmed police officers who were gunned down by soldiers on May 25 even though the officers were under the protection of the United Nations, which had brokered a truce between the army and the police.
Alkatiri has faced repeated calls to step down, including from East Timor President Jose Alexander Gusmao, former resistance leader. Gusmao said last week he would resign if Alkatiri did not, but later backed away from his threat.
Gusmao is far more popular than Alkatiri, who sat out the guerrilla war in Mozambique and is one of the few Muslims in this largely Roman Catholic country. But under East Timor's constitution, the presidency is largely ceremonial and most power is in the hands of the prime minister.
East Timor, which lies in the Indonesian archipelago north of Australia, was a Portuguese colony for hundreds of years before being annexed by Indonesia in 1975. The province voted overwhelmingly for independence in 1999, prompting pro-Indonesian militias to go on a rampage, killing 1,000 people and destroying most of its buildings.
The United Nations helped rebuild the country but ended most assistance last year.
Ramos-Horta, who won the 1996 peace prize for his efforts to win East Timor's independence from Indonesia, had served as foreign minister since the country became independent in 2002. He took on the additional role of defense minister last month after his predecessor, Roque Rodriguez, was forced to step down for his role in the crisis.
Former Interior Minister Rogerio Lobato, who also was forced out last month, was subsequently arrested on charges that he armed civilian militia members to silence political opponents. It is unclear whether he is providing evidence against Alkatiri.
The Australian ABC television program ``Four Corners'' reported last week that Alkatiri was present at a meeting when Lobato allegedly ordered a hit squad linked to Fretilin to eliminate rivals.
After viewing a videotape of the show, Gusmao issued his threat to step down if Alkatiri did not. The president told the nation that he was ``ashamed of all the bad things that have happened.''
TONY EASTLEY: Australia's Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer, is disappointed and concerned about events in East Timor.
I spoke to the Foreign Minister a short time ago.
Mr Downer, Fretilin has endorsed Mari Alkatiri as Prime Minister. His re-endorsement as Prime Minister, it's not what Australia wanted, is it?
ALEXANDER DOWNER: Well, we've never said publicly what we want and I think that's an important position for us to take. I don't think we should get ourselves inserted into the details of their politics.
What I've said to the East Timorese is look, we'll provide security for you, but you yourselves have got to sort out your political problems. You can't come to us and ask us to do that.
Now, you know, there've obviously been attempts to try to draw us into their political processes, but I've vigorously resisted that all along, so, you know, whoever their Prime Minister is, that's a matter for them.
TONY EASTLEY: That security that Australia was providing there, was fairly strongly linked to Mr Ramos Horta, wasn't it?
ALEXANDER DOWNER: Well, in one respect of course it was, because it was as a result of my conversations with Jose Ramos Horta initially that we really moved towards sending in the military, though of course in the end, I said to him that this couldn't be done on the basis of telephone conversations between the two of us, he'd have to have a document signed by the President and the Prime Minister and the Speaker of the Parliament, so…
TONY EASTLEY: But nevertheless, he was a crucial person in that... in Australia's involvement there.
ALEXANDER DOWNER: He was a crucial person in all of that, there's no question of that. And he has been a very good interlocutor for us as the Foreign Minister in all sorts of different ways, so the fact of his resignation is one that I can't hide my disappointment about.
TONY EASTLEY: Does it mean that these critical developments will affect the level or nature of Australia's assistance in East Timor?
ALEXANDER DOWNER: No, it doesn't. I think the important thing, though, is that they shouldn't take the view that because we've now, with the support of the Malaysians, as well as Portugal and New Zealand, provided a secure environment for them, that they needn't any longer address the political problems that led to the breakdown in security in the first place.
I don't want them to take that view, and I've been very strong in asserting that to them.
TONY EASTLEY: If they don't address the political problems, what happens, and how soon do they have to address those problems? What's the timeframe that you as Foreign Minister will put on that?
ALEXANDER DOWNER: Well, look, we can't keep our troops there forever, and it's important that they understand that, and I've made that clear to them.
We've sent them in, we've got around 1,300 troops on the ground, but obviously, as I've said to the East Timorese, we want to reduce those numbers as quickly as we can.
And therefore, we look to them to sort out their political problems as quickly as possible so that once the internal environment is more stable, well, the security environment will improve, and we can downgrade the level of our assistance.
TONY EASTLEY: Our correspondent in Dili has reported that protestors have come in to Dili. Has this situation, this growing political crisis there, made the situation there more dangerous for the 1,300 troops - Australian troops - that are there?
ALEXANDER DOWNER: It might do if the protesters, or potential protesters, in support of Alkatiri confront protestors who are urging his resignation. That is the one thing I am concerned about, and there are some reports that a pro-Alkatiri protest could be raised in Dili, or people could come from the eastern part of the country.
People are perfectly entitled to protest against or in favour of the President, or the Prime Minister for that matter, in a free society.
But what they're not entitled to do is go at each other hammer and tongs and start attacking each other.
And that's what I'm worried about, that the supporters of and the opponents of Prime Minister Alkatiri have the potential to get into a confrontation with each other in the next few days, and so we're working, and particularly Brigadier Slater is working to try to avoid that.
In 2001, to much rejoicing and celebration East Timor became an Independent State free from Indonesian rule. Indonesia finally conceded East Timor’s right to exist as a free, autonomous State. The resistance movement ‘Fretilin’ led by Xanana Gusmo and the courage and tenacity of the East Timorese people forced the oppressive Indonesian government and militia’s to withdraw and concede East Timor autonomous self rule.
In regional elections last year, over 80% of the vote went to Fretilin led by Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri. Alkatiri’s who describes his political ideology as “Economic Nationalism opposes privatisation and World bank interference. Mr Alkatiri is a secular Muslim and anti-Imperialist who have remained steadfast against the Australian Howard Government’s attempts to gain a controlling influence in East Timor both politically and economically. The Howard Government has its sights set on the vast oil and gas deposits in the Timor Gap.
In April a section of the East Timorese Army mutinied reportedly over wages. According to veteran Australian journalist John Pilger,” an eye-witness Australian radio reporter Maryanne Keady disclosed that American and Australian officials were involved”. On April 7, Alkatiri described the rioting that ensued as an “attempted Coup” and that “foreigners and outsiders were attempting to divide the Nation”. A leaked Australian Defence Department document has revealed that Australia’s -primary objective in East Timor is to “seek access” for the Australian military in order that it may exercise influence over East Timor’s decision making. As Pilger states “a Bushite neo-con could not have put it better”.
The opportunity to exert such influence came on May 31. The Howard Government accepted an invitation from East Timorese President Xanana Gusmão, and Foreign Minister, Jose Ramos Horta, both of whom oppose Alkatiri’s nationalism, to deploy troops to the capital Dili. The Australian media typically portrayed this as an “Aussie troops to the rescue type mission along with a degrading campaign against Alkatiri. Insinuating him to be a corrupt dictator figure.
This is clearly Imperialist intervention by a small pacific power, Australia exerting its military might against a small politically and militarily defenceless new State. Neo-colonialism such as we are witnessing on a grander scale with the US in the Middle East. As Paul Kelly, a reporter for The Murdoch owned “Australian” newspaper wrote” this is a highly political intervention…Australia is operating as a regional power or a political hegemony that shapes security and political outcomes”. Like its puppet master in Washington, the Howard Government is using its regional clout to benefit its own interests at the expense of a weaker power.
These Items Do Not Reflect the Position or Views of the United Nations. UNOTIL Public Information Office