Subject: UNMIT Daily Media Review - 2 January 2008

Monday, 2 January 2008


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National Media Reports

No media reports because of yesterday's public holiday


International Media Reports

Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Kenya New York, 31 December 2007

The Secretary-General has been closely following the developments in Kenya since the announcement of the results of the elections. He is concerned about the ensuing violence and strongly deplores the loss of human lives. He urges the security forces to show utmost restraint. The Secretary-General appeals to the population for calm, patience and respect for law.

The Secretary General calls on the political parties and leaders to resolve their differences peacefully through dialogue and by making full use of the existing legal mechanisms and procedures.

Reliance oil block in East Timor to get new investors New Delhi, Delhi, India, 2007-12-31 20:45:02

State-owned petroleum firms Indian Oil Corp (IOC) and Oil India Ltd (OIL) will together pick up 12.5 percent equity in an oil and gas block in East Timor that is operated by Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL).

State-owned petroleum firms Indian Oil Corp (IOC) and Oil India Ltd (OIL) will together pick up 12.5 percent equity in an oil and gas block in East Timor that is operated by Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL).

Both the state-owned companies have obtained approval from their respective boards of directors to acquire equity in Reliance's asset as partners, a senior IOC official said.

'The IOC and OIL boards have their approval our technical teams were satisfied with the data made available by Reliance,' the official told IANS.

Reliance will hold majority stake in the block and will be the operator of the area, which is spread over 2,384 sq km.

The shares of Reliance Industries, however, fell marginally by 0.96 percent at Rs.2881.05 on the Bombay Stock Exchange, despite rising to the day's high of Rs.2, 948.80.

RIL emerged a winner in the bidding race for the exploration block 'K' despite tough competition from international players.

The contract area 'K' lies in the Australian North West Shelf, a joint petroleum development area between East Timor and Australia that has proven reserves.

This region contains world-class discoveries like Bayu-Undan (commenced production in 2004) and Greater Sunrise.

The East Timor government announced the awards on May 23 last year.

Subsequently, a production sharing contract (PSC) for the exploration block was signed by Atul Chandra President, International Operations of Reliance Industries Limited (RIL) and East Timor’s Natural Resources Minister Jose A. Fernandes Teixeira in Dili, capital of East Timor, November 16. The East Timor government had invited bids for 11 shallow water and ultra deepwater exploration blocks.

Of the 11 blocks offered by the under the licensing round, six blocks have been awarded.

Other International News

UNITED NATIONS: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon flew 215,000 miles (346,000 kilometers) and visited six continents during his first year as U.N. chief, gaining a reputation as a workaholic and a staunch advocate for peace in Darfur and global action to combat climate change.

But at U.N. headquarters, he's had a tougher time making progress on his goal of changing U.N. culture and re-engineering a giant international bureaucracy where 192 countries often have competing interests so the U.N. can better deal with today's fast-paced world.

And despite being an avid globetrotter _ 132 days on the road in 39 countries or territories _ Ban Ki-moon has yet to become a household name, though his predecessor, Kofi Annan, wasn't either in his first year. Ban also has yet to master the soundbite, which is critical for a global personality.

By all accounts, his greatest success has been in highlighting the dramatic impact of climate change _ from melting glaciers in Antarctica to the disappearance of much of Lake Chad _ and helping to galvanize world opinion and get political leaders to launch negotiations on a new treaty to curb global warming.

In a message on his first year in office, Ban called the agreement earlier this month at the climate change conference on the Indonesian island of Bali "the year's key achievement." Britain's U.N. Ambassador John Sawers echoed many diplomats and observers when he said "climate change stands out as an issue where he has made an impact."

"He played a personal role in Bali in getting a solution in a very difficult and complex end game there, and a solution which was way above the expectations of a number of players at the outset," Sawers said.

As for Darfur, the British envoy added that "nobody can doubt the energy and commitment that he's put into Sudan" and trying to end the nearly five-year conflict that has killed over 200,000 people and uprooted 2.5 million from their homes.

Ban has faced up to the "deeply recalcitrant regime in Khartoum ... and been more tenacious than previous secretary-generals have been in similar situations," Sawers said.

The secretary-general said no political issue has taken more of his time in 2007 than Darfur.

A year ago, he said, there was no movement toward peace, but today talks have started _ although without many key players _ and a joint U.N.-African Union peacekeeping force to eventually number 26,000 troops will start deploying on Jan. 1.

"The challenge for the coming year is to work continuously with the Sudan government, rebel movements, representatives of civil society and regional leaders, as well as the U.N. Security Council and the international community, to ensure the ultimate success of both the talks and the military mission," Ban said in his message.

The secretary-general faces many other challenges as well.

When he took over from Annan as secretary-general on Jan. 1, the former South Korean foreign minister said he wanted to be a "a harmonizer and bridge-builder"and repair relations between the U.N.'s rich and poor states which had fought bitterly over parts of Annan's reform program.

But he got off to a rough start, mishandling U.N. reaction to Saddam Hussein's execution, taking a long time to make appointments, and trying to push through reforms without sufficient consultation with member states.

The secretary-general's first budget was criticized by the United States and others for being "piecemeal" and incomplete. It was approved by the General Assembly just before Christmas, but for the first time, the two-year financial blueprint was not adopted by consensus because of U.S. objections to funding a 2009 conference against racism which Washington considers anti-Israel.

The US$4.17 billion (euro2.87 billion) budget also didn't include the next major reform Ban is pushing _ strengthening the Department of Political Affairs so it can focus more on diplomacy to ease tense situations before they erupt into conflict. That will likely face an uphill struggle in the spring when additions to the budget will be considered.

The secretary-general has emphasized ethics, disclosure, and transparency and has authorized new steps to get all U.N. funds and agencies _ which operate independently _ to adhere to the same ethical standards that apply to U.N. staff directly under his authority.

But he has also been criticized _ including in the budget resolution authorizing the financing of the AU-U.N. force in Darfur _ for awarding a US$250 million (euro172 million) U.N. contract without competitive bidding for the construction of five new camps for the force. Ban has said this was done because of complex U.N. rules and a short timeframe.

U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said Ban has "a tough job" because he sometimes doesn't have the authority to make the decisions on his own.

"We think he's a good leader," Khalilzad told AP. "He's got good values, good convictions. He works hard. He's led the world on Darfur. He has played, obviously, a key role with regard to the climate issue ... and he has developed good relations with quite a lot of leaders around the world."

Khalilzad's predecessor, former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton, said he was disappointed at the slow pace of reforms.

On the other hand, Bolton gave Ban high marks for his approach to his high-profile post.

"He has not come to the view that he is God's gift to humanity. He doesn't think he's a secular pope like Kofi did, and he understands that he works for member governments which Kofi had forgotten. So on balance, I still think this is a marked improvement _ and I think that's the view of many member governments," Bolton said in October.

Luc Joseph Okio, a senior diplomat from the Republic of Congo, which is on the Security Council, praised Ban's interest in African issues and urged him to do more to settle conflicts on the continent, which would free resources for development.

U.N. Ambassador Marcello Spatafora of Italy, also a Security Council member, said it's impossible to compare the South Korean Ban to Annan, who is from Ghana, because they are products of different cultures.

While Asians are generally low key and don't show emotion, Spatafora said, in the past year he has seen in the secretary-general "how behind this facade of Asian impassibility there is a heart, there is a passion...." (AP)

PAKISTAN: Pakistan's election body has delayed a decision on whether to put back elections planned for 8 January in the wake of Benazir Bhutto's assassination. A formal statement is now expected on Tuesday, although officials have told reporters that the vote would be delayed by several weeks. (BBC) A senior government official predicted the elections would be postponed by "six weeks or so as the environment to hold free and fair elections is not conducive." (AP)

Benazir Bhutto's son Bilawal accepted the joint leadership of her party on Sunday along with his father Asif Ali Zardari and immediately vowed to fight for democracy as revenge for her assassination. (Dawn, Islamabad) The PPP, which Sunday night appointed Bhutto's 19-year-old son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari to replace her as chairman, has demanded a UN inquiry into her assassination. (DPA)

According to Benazir Bhutto's husband Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistan People's Party will petition the UN to appoint a commission to probe into her death, as it did with former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. (Mail Today, New Delhi)

New details of Bhutto's final moments, including indications that her doctors felt pressured to conform to government accounts of her death, fueled the arguments over her assassination on Sunday and added to the pressure on Pakistan's leaders to accept an international inquiry. (NYT)

President Pervez Musharraf agreed on Sunday to "consider" international help for a probe into the death of Benazir Bhutto in a conversation with British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Downing Street said. Mr Brown spoke to President Musharraf Sunday after a previous call on Friday and stressed the need to hold the January 8 election on time, Brown's office said. (Dawn, Islamabad)

Bhutto's assassination has dramatically altered Pakistani politics, forcing the largest opposition party to find new leadership on the eve of an election, jeopardizing a fragile transition to democracy, and leaving Washington even more dependent on the controversial President Pervez Musharraf as the lone pro-U.S. leader in a nation facing growing extremism. (WP Sun)

Turmoil in Pakistan is jeopardising the future of its war-torn neighbour, the outgoing United Nations special representative to Afghanistan warned on Sunday. (FT)

If President Musharraf is the enlightened moderate he says he is, he needs to reach out to all political forces personally and offer a concrete reassurance. Militancy is threatening the existence of the country and only a national consensus provides some hope for the future. If this consensus calls for a government of national unity, a neutral entity, to guarantee free, fair and impartial elections, so be it. This is not the time for cemented positions. (Dawn, Islamabad, Sun ed)

The assassination of Benazir Bhutto has given the coup de grâce to the botched American attempt to manage a nuclear-armed Islamic state, Roger Cohen writes. (NYY Op-Ed)

A solution to the crisis is available, writes novelist Tariq Ali. This would require Mr Musharraf's replacement by a less contentious figure, an all-party government of unity to prepare the basis for genuine elections within six months, and the reinstatement of the sacked Supreme Court judges to investigate Benazir's murder without fear or favour. It would be a start. (Independent, London, ed)

KENYA: More than 100 people have been killed during violent overnight clashes in Kenya after the ruling president, Mwai Kibaki, declared himself victorious in disputed elections and was sworn back into office almost immediately. (Guardian, London) It took all of about 15 minutes on Sunday, after Kenya's president was declared the winner of a deeply controversial election, for the country to explode. (NYT)

At least 43 people have been killed in the western Kenyan town of Kisumu after violence blamed on the disputed presidential election. Witnesses say the police fired live bullets after protesters threw stones, claiming fraud in last week's poll. (BBC)

Kenya's democratic credentials were in tatters after Raila Odinga, the country's main opposition leader, lost a hotly contested presidential election that both his party and independent observers said was not credible. (FT)

The chief of the European Union election observers in the country, Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, reported evidence of irregularities. "We regret that it has not been possible to address irregularities about which both the Election Observation Mission and the Electoral Commission of Kenya have evidence," he said in a statement Sunday, adding that "some doubt remains as to the accuracy of the result of the presidential election as announced today." (LAT)

SUDAN: A joint United Nations-African Union force takes over peacekeeping operations in the Sudanese province of Darfur today with barely a third of its planned 26,000 personnel deployed. It is an inauspicious start to what was to have been the world's largest peacekeeping operation, mandated to aid and protect the hundreds of thousands of civilians displaced in more than four years of conflict between the Khartoum government and its militia allies and Darfur rebel groups. (FT)

The new mission is staffed far below its authorized level, at only 9,000 of a planned 26,000 peacekeepers, and many fear it will be as incapable of protecting civilians as the AU force it replaced. (AP) The people of Darfur are unlikely to see much change on the ground when the African Union makes what is seen as a largely symbolic handover to a joint U.N.-AU peacekeeping force on Monday, analysts say. (Reuters)

"The situation in Darfur will not be transformed overnight," UNAMID chief Rodolphe Adada warned. "However we are optimistic that the deployment of UNAMID will help to begin to improve the security situation in Darfur and create a climate favourable to the achievement of a negotiated settlement of the conflict." (AFP)

SOUTH AFRICA: Allies of Jacob Zuma, the newly elected leader of South Africa's African National Congress, accused Thabo Mbeki, the country's president, of being behind his indictment for corruption, adding to concerns about the split within the ruling party. (FT)

ISRAEL/PALESTINE: The circumstances surrounding the killing of two Israeli settlers by Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank on Friday remained shrouded in confusion on Sunday, with three Palestinian militias, including one connected with President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah organization, claiming responsibility for the attack. (NYT)

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sent an official letter on Sunday to the ministers of defense, housing and agriculture with an order to refrain from authorizing any construction in the West Bank without his and Defense Minister Ehud Barak's prior approval. (Haaretz)

Israel said yesterday it would not ease restrictions on movement and access for Palestinians in the West Bank unless the Palestinian leadership moved more forcefully against armed groups threatening violence against Israelis. (FT)

Fatah's armed wing, the Aksa Martyrs Brigades, on Sunday called for the murder of Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salaam Fayad for "collaboration" with Israel and the US. (Jerusalem Post)

Israel has clear evidence that some UN member states are harboring and funding terrorist organizations, Israel said in a formal letter to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. (Haaretz)

The European Union on Sunday denied any connection to bags that Israel said were marked as containing EU aid "sugar" but actually filled with bomb-making chemicals bound for the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip. (Reuters)

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa revealed that the League is conducting a series of discussions with member states to convene an emergency meeting for Arab Foreign Ministers next Sunday upon a request submitted by Egypt and Saudi Arabia to discuss the peace process between the Palestinians and the Israelis in light of new developments by the Israeli side. (Al-Ahram, Cairo)

It didn't take long for the glow of the Annapolis peace conference to wear off. Israelis and Palestinians have quickly fallen back into predictable destructive patterns. Arab countries have not done anywhere near enough to support the negotiations. The last month's stagnation, after the enthusiasm of Annapolis, is yet another reminder of why Mr. Bush cannot stand on the sidelines and hope that an agreement will somehow materialize. (NYT ed)

IRAQ: A suicide bomber drove a truck rigged with explosives into a checkpoint manned by members of a U.S.-backed security volunteer group in a town north of Baghdad on Monday, killing at least 12 people, police and a member of the volunteer group said. (AP)

The top American military commander in Iraq said Saturday that violent attacks in the country had fallen by 60 percent since June, but cautioned that security gains were "tenuous" and "fragile," requiring political and economic progress to cement them. (NYT Sun)

Osama bin Laden has directed the fury of al-Qaeda against a new target: Sunni Arab leaders in Iraq who have turned against insurgents backed by the terror group and are working with US forces to end violence in key areas of the country. (Guardian, London)

GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, the pharmaceutical groups, have been ordered to release confidential documents to the UK's Serious Fraud Office as part of its investigation into bribes allegedly paid to Saddam Hussein's former Iraq regime. (FT)

LEBANON: In the past few weeks, the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) deployed in South Lebanon has heightened supervision of bridges over the Litani River to deter Hezbollah from moving weapons to the South, particularly in areas bordering Israel. (Haaretz, Daily Star, Beirut)

France is cutting off talks with Syria until Damascus shows its willingness to let Lebanon elect a new president, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said yesterday. (AP)

SYRIA: A pair of U.S. lawmakers visited the Syrian capital on Sunday in an attempt to persuade the Arab state to make peace with Israel and woo it from the Iranian sphere of influence. Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) and Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy (D-R.I.) visited Syria after a trip to neighboring Israel, which gave its blessing to the lawmakers' mediation effort. (LAT) President Assad is ready for peace with Israel, US Senator Arlen Specter said Sunday after talks with the Syrian leader. (AP)

IRAN: For years, Western analysts have struggled to understand the inner workings of Iran's leadership. To many, it is a government tightly controlled by the Shiite Muslim clergy. But the power of the clerics has steadily eroded. Increasingly, power is distributed among combative elites within a delicate system of checks and balances defined by religious as well as civil law, personal relations and the rhythm of bureaucracy. (LAT)

AFGHANISTAN: At least 16 policemen in the south of Afghanistan have been killed after an attack by the Taliban on a checkpoint, interior ministry officials say. (BBC) Nearly 1,000 civilians and more than 850 policemen have been killed in Taliban-linked violence in Afghanistan in the past nine months, the interior ministry said on Monday. (AFP)

The Taliban leader, Mullah Omar, has ordered his chief commander expelled from the movement for disobeying Taliban rules, a spokesman said in a statement over the weekend. (NYT) A spokesman for the Taliban said that Mansoor Dadullah, who operates in the south of the country, had been kicked out of the Islamist militia for "disobeying orders" and conducting operations "against the Taliban's rules and regulations". (FT)

Japan's prime minister pledged Tuesday to resume naval operations near Afghanistan after a political standoff over Tokyo's role in the global fight against terrorism forced the country to end its mission last year. (AP)

MYANMAR: India has halted all arms sales and transfers to Burma, a development that could increase international pressure on the military junta that brutally crushed the pro-democracy "Saffron Revolution" led by monks this fall. (WP Sun)

Close on the heels of India halting all arms sales and transfers to the Myanmar, Foreign Minister U Nyan Win will arrive in New Delhi, where India is expected to stick to its three main talking points: New Delhi's support for national reconciliation of Myanmar, political reforms and accommodation of various ethnic groups. India will reiterate its support to the Gambari initiative. (Tribune, Chandigarh)

CHINA: The people of Hong Kong will not be able to elect their chief executive for at least another decade, China's legislature decreed at the weekend in the latest setback for the territory's democracy aspirations. (FT)

NORTH KOREA: The US on Sunday urged North Korea to come clean about the full range of its nuclear activities, as it became all but certain that the secretive communist state would break its promise to make such a declaration by the end of the year. (FT) Nations involved in North Korea's nuclear disablement programme have expressed disappointment that it looks set to miss a year-end deadline. (BBC)

INDONESIA: Indonesian relief and rescue workers used a helicopter and rubber boats on Monday to deliver aid and rescue people marooned on Java Island after massive flooding triggered by days of torrential rain. (Reuters)

TURKEY: Turkish police have foiled a plot to murder a priest, in a case that recalls other attacks this year against Christians in Muslim but secular Turkey, newspapers reported on Monday. (Milliyet, Reuters)

SERBIA: Gazprom's offer to take control of Serbia's state-owned petroleum monopoly has divided the Serbian government and sounded alarm bells about the cost of Moscow's political support. (FT)

MEXICO: Fifty-three children under the age of 6 live inside a prison in Mexico City with their mothers, who are serving sentences for crimes from drug dealing to kidnapping to homicide. (NYT)

COLOMBIA: Three hostages held for years in Colombia by Marxist guerrillas will not be handed to a Venezuelan helicopter team until at least Monday, but officials said Sunday that they were in constant contact with the rebels. (Reuters)

CLIMATE CHANGE: For years, Bush bristled privately at what he considered sky-is-falling alarmism by the liberal, elitist Hollywood crowd. The clatter over climate change, according to friends and advisers, seemed to him more like a political agenda than a rational response to known facts. But ever so gradually, they say, Bush's views have evolved. He has found the science increasingly persuasive and believes more needs to be done, especially after a set of secret briefings last winter. A former aide said Bush's staff even developed models for a market-based cap on greenhouse emissions. (WP Sat)

Japan faces an uphill struggle as New Year's Day on Tuesday marks the start of a five-year period during which many of the world's advanced economies must implement international obligations to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by an average of 5 percent. (Kyodo)

When talks begin on a successor to the Kyoto protocol, world leaders should unite around a single priority. They should aim to create a functioning market that puts a price on carbon. (FT ed)

NATIONAL NEWS SOURCES: Timor Post (TP) Radio Timor-Leste (RTL) Suara Timor Lorosae (STL) Diario Tempo (DT) Diario Nacional (DN) Semanario Televisaun Timor-Leste (TVTL)


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