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UNTAET Daily Briefing 26 Jun 2001

Publication date

Dili, 26 June 2001

Representatives of thirteen countries have indicated they will provide continued material and technical support to the newly formed East Timor Defence Force (ETDF). The indications of support were made at the two-day donor conference on the ETDF's development that ended today in Dili. Deputy Transitional Administrator Jean-Christian Cady said in closing remarks that each country present had indicated support for one or more of the functions in the areas of personnel support; training; logistics; and equipment and material. At the conference Portugal reaffirmed its previous commitment to provide two Albatross patrol craft - expected to arrive in November - and associated support to form the basis of a maritime wing of the ETDF, while ASEAN countries showed great willingness to assist in training the ETDF and supporting its organizational efforts. Representatives of Australia, Brazil, Japan, Malaysia, Mozambique, New Zealand, the Philippines, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States attended the conference. Mr. Cady expressed satisfaction that the presence of many Asian countries among the donors had allowed for there to be a geographically balanced outcome of support. The amount of financial assistance the ETDF is expected to receive will be determined only after the participants have consulted with their respective capitals, and while no specific timeframe was placed on the support, it is expected to be provided until the Defence Force becomes fully functional. This morning representatives of the donor countries visited the new purpose-built ETDF training facilities at Metinaro, near Dili, which was inaugurated by SRSG Sergio Vieira de Mello today. Basic training for 348 inductees into the ETDF is scheduled to begin at the training facility in mid-July.


Two East Timor Transitional Cabinet Members, Mari Alkatiri, for Economic Affairs, and Peter Galbraith, for Political Affairs and Timor Sea, left for Canberra today to attend a ministerial meeting on Thursday, 28 June, with the Australian Government on the Timor Sea. Cabinet Member for Foreign Affairs José Ramos-Horta will be joining the negotiating UNTAET/ETTA team tomorrow. The Australian delegation will be led by Foreign Minister Alexander Downer, the Minister for Industry Nick Minchin and Attorney General Daryl Williams. The meeting is attempting to reach a conclusion for a framework on the Timor Sea agreement between both countries.


Thousands of people have so far attended Constitutional Commission hearings aimed at soliciting the views of East Timorese on what should be considered by the future Constituent Assembly when drafting a Constitution. Reports from various districts indicate that the hearings have lasted for long periods of time. On Atauro Island, in Dili district, more than 1,200 people turned out for four hearings last week; in Ainaro district, more than 2,100 people attended the seven hearings held so far; and between 1,300 and 1,500 people have participated in four public hearings in Suai district. Four hearings in Viqueque district have drawn almost 3,000 participants. Among the prevalent issues being discussed at the hearings are the political system, currency, and flag East Timor should adopt; the type of punishments that should be applied to those responsible for serious crimes; the educational system; laws for foreign investors; how the revenue from the Timor Sea should be distributed; and the official language. Women's groups have been well represented at the hearings, with many calling for Constitutional safeguards against domestic violence and for a robust family law. The commissions - consisting of between five and seven Commissioners, one Rapporteur and one Constitutional Adviser - will be holding public hearings in each of East Timor's 65 sub-districts until 14 July. The Constitutional Commissioners will subsequently prepare a report from each district that will ultimately be presented by the Transitional Administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello to a future Constituent Assembly.


As part of the ongoing donor support to East Timor, the Governments of Finland and New Zealand have donated US$705,000 and US$250,000 respectively to the Consolidated Fund for East Timor (CFET). New Zealand's contribution was announced during the Canberra donors conference on 14-15 June. The agreement was signed between SRSG Sergio Vieira de Mello and the Director of the Development Cooperation Division of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Peter Adams. The Finnish grant was announced just before the conference.


The East Timorese National Council today unanimously agreed to extend its plenary sessions by two weeks in light of the number of regulations it still has to consider. The National Council was initially scheduled to begin a two-week recess on 2 July, and must formally dissolve by 15 July, the day that political campaigning for the 30 August elections for he Constituent Assembly gets underway. In another development, the National Council today approved in principle a draft regulation on the establishment of the East Timor Police Service. The draft will now be forwarded to the Standing Committee on Judicial Affairs for detailed consideration. The Committee is scheduled to present its report and recommendations back to the council on 29 June.