Dili, 25 June 2001
EAST TIMOR DEFENCE FORCE DONORS MEETING BEGINS
The second international donor's conference of countries committed to assisting the newly formed East Timor Defence Force (ETDF) began today in Dili. The purpose of the two-day conference, chaired by SRSG Sergio Vieira de Mello, is to present a progress report on the development of the ETDF and to request further assistance in the structuring, development and equipping the new force. The meeting will focus on advisor support, training support, logistic support, and equipment, material and financial donations. In his opening remarks, ETDF Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak said that the structural transformation of Falintil into the ETDF had been achieved. Addressing those East Timorese who feared the dissolution of Falintil would erase a major symbol of resistance from East Timor's history, Taur Matan Ruak said, "Today, the population knows that history cannot be eliminated or re-written and that in this new political context ETDF [represents] one more step towards the building of the new nation of East Timor." The Brigadier General said that the formation of the ETDF could not have been completed in such a short time had it not been for the experience shared by the recent graduates "of a past struggle, of discipline, and the committed conviction of a just cause." Taur Matan Ruak stressed that the ETDF would be a professional and non-partisan force that would submit itself to the democratically elected political power, and that it would not become involved in any future action of a police nature.
Last week 247 ETDF inductees were the first graduates of a basic training course conducted in Aileu. The next basic training, for 348 inductees, is scheduled to begin in mid-July at the ETDF's purpose-built new heaquarters at Metinaro, near Dili, which will be inaugurated by SRSG tomorrow. In opening remarks at the beginning of today's conference, SRSG Sergio Vieira de Mello described the Aileu graduation as "a very emotional confirmation that things are moving forward and we are meeting our goals."
THIRTEEN PARTIES REGISTERED AS DEADLINE IS REACHED
The registration of political parties and national and district independent candidates running in the elections for a Constituent Assembly on 30 August ended yesterday, with a total of 13 parties registered. Apodeti (Associação Popular Democrática Timorense) on Sunday became the last party to submit an application to register. An additional two parties - Parentil and Partai Liberal - have applied for registration and are currently in the fourteen-day inspection period. There are now three women national independent candidates and two male national independent candidates. Eleven district independent candidates have applied for registration. The deadline for presenting national and district party candidate nomination lists to the Independent Electoral Commission is on Wednesday, 27 June.
LAUTEM FLOOD VICTIMS CONTINUE TO NEED FOOD AID
Emergency shelters arrived in Lospalos yesterday for an estimated 44 families whose houses were completely destroyed by the flooding that swept the area early last week, said the National Emergency Operation Center (NEOC) today. These families have been living in emergency shelters in a school and church in Lospalos town that were set up by United Nations specialized agencies and the Peacekeeping Force. More than 1,000 residents of Lautem district, in the eastern part of East Timor, have now registered for some form of emergency assistance following three days of floods. Cabinet Member for Infrastructure João Carrascalão today visited a section of road between Baucau and Lospalos that was destroyed in the flooding. NEOC officials say repairing the road is critical to restoring the area's economic activity. A group of Korean and Bangladesh Peacekeepers are in the process of building a temporary bypass around the destroyed section, which is located on the coast some 40 minutes east of Baucau town. The bypass is expected to be complete by the end of this week. NEOC officials say it may take at least a month before the road is fully functional again.