Dili, 8 May 2002


More than 80 nations have so far accepted invitations from UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and East Timor’s Second Transitional Government to send delegations to the 19-20 May ceremonies that will launch East Timor as the first new nation of the millennium, organisers said today.

In a fitting climax to a month of Independence Celebrations in East Timor, Annan, UN General Assembly President Han Seung-soo and representatives from at least 84 countries will join up to 200,000 East Timorese on the night of the 19th at a ceremony being held on the outskirts of Dili.

After an elaborate cultural ceremony incorporating traditional music and dancing, Annan and Han will address East Timor during the final minutes of the United Nations’ two-and-a-half-year transitional administration. At midnight, Annan will hand over power to Parliament President Francisco “Lu-Olo” Guterres.

The UN flag will then be lowered, the new East Timorese national flag will be raised, and Lu-Olo will declare East Timor’s birth as an independent nation. Xanana Gusmão, the landslide winner of the 14 April election, will be sworn in as President and give an address to his nation punctuated with a massive fireworks display.

The next morning, the Government of East Timor will be sworn in, and the National Parliament – elected in August 2001 to draft a Constitution – will hold its inaugural session. In the afternoon, the Community of Portuguese-Speaking Nations (CPLP) will hold a summit in Dili.

Among the 84 national delegations, at least eight will be led by Heads of State. Three prime ministers are also expected to attend, as well as two deputy prime ministers and at least 13 foreign ministers.

(A full 19-20 May events programme has been attached to this e-mail)


The European Commission’s new representative in East Timor today met with SRSG Sergio Vieira de Mello and pledged that the commission will remain actively engaged in East Timor after its 20 May independence.

Gugliemo Colombo, who arrived in East Timor on 1 May to replace outgoing European Commission (EC) representative John Keating, said the EC would continue providing financial support to East Timor over the next three years. The European Commission has since 1999 disbursed nearly US$100 million through the Trust Fund for East Timor (TFET), with a further US$25 million pledged for TFET and a range of capacity building, rural development and civic education projects.