Subject: UNOTIL Daily Media Review 16 May 2006


Compiled by the Public Information Office from national and international sources

Daily Media Review Tuesday, 16 May 2006

National Media Reports

Fretilin Leadership Challenges

Timor-Leste Ambassador to the United Nations and the USA, Jose Luis Guterres, and Secretary of State for Region III, Egidio de Jesus, have officially declared leadership challenges to the positions of Secretary General and President of Fretilin, reported the media on Tuesday. Speaking during a press conference held in Dili on Monday, Jose Luis Guterres reportedly said the leadership style of Fretilin President Francisco Guterres and Secretary General Mari Alkatiri is confrontational rather than constructive. Guterres added that whenever a problem arises they do not find a way of resolving it but instead hide the problem. He added that Timor-Leste as a new nation needs a leadership of dialogue, with determination and courage to make decisions and to consult with people involved to resolve rising problems and prevent new ones. The Ambassador to the UN and USA noted that since independence, the country has faced many conflicts that have begun with small problems and, having never been addressed, have ballooned into bigger problems. According to the media, the group known as ‘Group for Change’ or the ‘Reformation Group’ called the press conference specifically to announce their decisions to contest the Fretilin’s Secretary General and President positions during the party’s second congress scheduled for 17-10 May in Dili.

In a separate article, Vicente ‘Maubocy’ Guterres, supporter of the two contesting candidates, reportedly asked what has Mari Alkatiri done as Prime Minister in the last four years but had confrontations with the church, civil society and the media, adding that Alkatiri contributed to the shake up of his power.

Former Minister for Development Abel Ximenes and member of the Reformation Group reportedly said Fretilin needs change in order to improve moral and political capacity in Timor-Leste. Ximenes stressed that the group recognizes the efforts of all political parties in strengthening the independence of Timor-Leste, and that it was not Fretilin alone. He added that the main party can weaken if it does not change. Another member of the group, George Teme, former Timor-Leste Ambassador to Australia, reportedly said he doesn’t like the type of current external politics adopted by the Mari Alkatiri Government because it is not neutral in line with what is expected of external relations.

In a separate article, STL reported President of Fretilin, Francisco ‘Lu’Olo’ Guterres, as saying if they do not have the trust of the party’s delegates, both he and Alkatiri will resign from their posts. “ If the Secretary General is not elected, naturally the President will not be re-elected. Therefore, both of us will resign,” Lu’Olo told the media during a press conference on Monday.

In response to rumours that some people will boycott Fretilin’s congress, Francisco Guterres stated that no one will destroy the party’s national congress, noting that nothing will happen as the people of Timor-Leste are also people of Fretilin. According to STL, during a meeting of Fretilin Central Committee (CCF), Lu’Olo asked members of the committee to calm the situation in order to conclude the congress. “Whoever wins in this election, it’s all of ours and those that lose remain members of Fretilin,” Guterres said appealing to all members to continue to work together rather than create instability by threatening each other. He said that there would be security to monitor who is entitled to participate in the congress, reported STL Tuesday. (TP, STL)

Parliament receives report from government and F-FDTL Commander

It is reported that the National Parliament has received the report from the Government and Chief of Staff of F-FDTL Colonel Lere Anan Timor on F-FDTL intervention on the 28 April incident. According to Timor Post, President of National Parliament Francisco Lu’Olo Guterres read the report at yesterday’s plenary session. Guterres said that the intervention of F-FDTL, based on the government decree law no 20, 7/2004 and also on RDTL Constitution C, No 1, Article 115 which reads that the Government has the competency to maintain public security in the country. “It is legal for F-FDTL to intervene in a crisis situation,” said Lu Olo. In response to the rumors that many people were killed, Lu Olo said that two people were killed, one injured and four petitioners were arrested.

MP Juliao Mausiri (PD) told the Timor Post he still questions the number of deaths because there has been no clarification from F-FDTL.

In relation to the 28 April incident, Deputy Ombudsman for Human Rights and Justice, Silveiro Pinto told the Timor Post that his organization continues to investigate the incident and that there is still more data to be collected. Pinto said his organization received information from some of the petitioners claiming that 60 people were killed but added that since the information is questionable his office will carry out a deeper investigation. On the Gleno incident, Pinto stressed that it was not a violation of human rights but it is a genuine criminal act. (TP, STL)

Violence must be avoided to achieve peace: Xanana

In his opening speech at the Peace Concert held at Motael in Dili on Sunday, President Xanana Gusmão appealed to youth not use violence or there will be no peace in Timor-Leste. “ To achieve peace you need to have dialogue so people can express their feelings but when it is a closed dialogue, violence take place,” said Xanana.

He further added that, “in this peace concert all of us, especially the youth, must build the national unity and hold on to it and onto independence, which was gained with blood and tears”.

Regional Media Reports

Why do Australians want Mari Alkatiri out of the Prime Ministership of East Timor? By Dr. Helen Hill Victoria University Australia

Ever since the August 2001 elections for the Constituent Assembly in East Timor when the longest standing party of resistance, FRETILIN, won a convincing 54% of the vote against 14 other parties, the Australian embassy in Dili and most Australian journalists have never lost an opportunity to express a lack of confidence in the Prime Minister, Mari Alkatiri, FRETILIN's General Secretary.

Bulletin journalists Paul Toohey and Eric Ellis regularly recommend his overthrow whenever they write about Timor. The Australian regularly front-pages any anti-Alkatiri rumours they can pick up. But last Friday, Jim Middleton on the ABC's evening news topped this by wondering 'what would happen if Alkatiri decides to resist' calls for his resignation! His evidence that there was widespread hostility to wards Alkatiri in FRETILIN came from a highly dubious source, sacked Central Committee Vicente Ximenes. But over the weekend it escalated, Mark Vaile, Minister for Trade, on Laurie Oakes Channel 9 interview even made it look as if the warships were going to Dili for the FRETILIN Congress next week! To the Timorese, this begins to look like intimidation.

Accusations against Alkatiri frequently accuse him of having 'sat out' the occupation in Mozambique whereas he was present with Jose Ramos Horta every year at the debate on East Timor at the United Nations. It was Alkatiri who did most of the thinking that led the multi-party National Council for Timorese Resistance to adopts its 'Magna Carta' in 1998 linking Timor's future policies with the best standards in international practice coming from the UN's conferences on human rights, environment, population, women and social development during the 1990s.

Detractors frequently allege that Mari Alkatiri's presence in Mozambique for 24 years means he is some sort of unreconstructed Marxist. In reality he is a strong economic nationalist and has spoken out against privatisation of electricity and managed to get a 'single-desk' pharmaceutical store despite opposition from the World Bank, but this is hardly radical policy. He hopes a state-owned petroleum company assisted by China, Malaysia and Brazil will enable Timor to benefit from some of its own in-shore oil and gas in addition to the revenue it will raise from the area jointly shared with Australia.

Lessons from their time in Mozambique have helped several of the Ministers now running East Timor to avoid problems such as an international debt, currently plaguing most African countries. There is widespread support in Timor for Alkatiri's decision not to take loans from the World Bank under the Poverty Reduction Strategy Program despite the fact that it gave Timor a few years of extremely low salaries in the public service. In reality the World Bank has been much more forthcoming with grant money although it still sets aside money for loans in case the government of Timor-Leste should change its policy.

Former Representative of Timor-Leste at the UN, Jose-Luis Guterres has announced his intention to stand against Alkatiri at next week's Party Congress. While that is his right as a FRETILIN member, he is by no means assured of victory. His detractors accuse him of having 'sat out' the first difficult years of independence in New York and of being out of touch with the community. The young intellectuals at the national university and the leadership of many Timorese Non Governmental Organizations, who praise Alkatiri's economic knowledge and his ability to defend Timor's interests against the likes of the World Bank and the Australian government (over the Timor Sea issue) believe that Guterres would be so much weaker and less visionary and that he lacks administrative experience. Alkatiri's championing of the Petroleum Fund as a way of avoiding the 'resource curse', his ability to choose Ministers and sack them if they don't perform, and his strong support for the rights of women have given him a more broad appeal among FRETILIN supporters. Issues which have dogged him include a defamation law which has caused the ire of much of Timor's media and the issue of the sacking of the dissident soldiers, where he has supported army commander Tuar Matan Ruark.

Another frequent accusation is that Alkatiri is 'arrogant' and while this might be the case he has increased massively the public consultations held over the last year. Under East Timor's Semi-Presidential Constitution it is the President who is popularly elected and must maintain a close relationship with the people, the Prime Minister is regarded as needing skills and abilities to get government departments running properly, appointing good ministers and proposing new development initiatives. In these matters Alkatiri has received wide praise, even from some of those who don't agree with all his policies such as the World Bank. Timor is much more in control of its own decision-making than many other small countries in the Pacific where Australian consultants have now been brought in to make those decisions.

There is, however still a huge skills shortage. Indonesia did not train graduates to think for themselves and address development problems; they were trained to take orders and rarely given responsibility for management. All political parties face the problem that there are scarcely enough skilled people to take on the role of ministers.

The FRETILIN Congress opens on Wednesday and the election will take place on Friday. Candidates will be nominated from the floor and all delegates can vote. It is highly likely that Dr Mari Alkatiri will be re-elected, and that FRETILIN will again be elected, but with a smaller majority, at the elections in 2007. What will the response of the Australian media and government be? (TP)

National News Sources Timor Post (TP) Radio Timor-Leste (RTL) Suara Timor Lorosae (STL) Diario Tempo (DT) Diario Nacional Seminario Lia Foun (LF) Televisaun Timor-Leste [TVTL]

These Items Do Not Reflect the Position or Views of the United Nations. UNOTIL Public Information Office 

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