UNTAET WELCOMES END TO PRESIDENTIAL RACE DEADLOCK
East Timor Transitional Administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello welcomed the announcement today by presidential candidate Francisco Xavier do Amaral and his supporters to ask the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to remove all party symbols from the ballot for the upcoming election.
“I would like to congratulate Xavier do Amaral, as well as ASDT and Parentil, for the courageous initiative they have taken to offer up a solution to this roadblock we have encountered,” Vieira de Mello said today in Dili. “This shows statesmanship and a genuine regard for the welfare of the country as a whole. Xavier do Amaral and his supporters have set a high standard for political maturity in this country.”
By agreeing to the removal of their party symbols from the ballot, ASDT and Parentil have fulfilled the IEC’s condition that an established procedure can only be changed through the agreement of all parties, and in a way that treats all parties equally.
Vieira de Mello also thanked Senior Minister for Foreign Affairs José Ramos-Horta for his role in facilitating today’s solution. The Minister was in contact with the Transitional Administrator/Special Representative of the Secretary-General from outside the country, and played a key role by strongly encouraging this East Timorese solution to the crisis.
Vieira de Mello also reiterated that “the independence and the integrity of the Independent Electoral Commission must be beyond the challenge of anyone, including national leaders, otherwise its ability to guarantee free and fair elections, and serve the interests of the people, is compromised”. The Transitional Administrator praised this solution by Francisco Xavier do Amaral and his supporters as one that respects the authority of the IEC while addressing the concerns of presidential candidate Xanana Gusmão.
UN BRIEFS GOVERNMENT ON SERVICES THAT WILL STOP ON 20 MAY
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in East Timor Sergio Vieira de Mello today briefed the Council of Ministers on the services currently provided by UNTAET to government and the community that will no longer be provided by the UN successor mission after independence on 20 May.
Following are some examples of affected services mentioned by the SRSG:
The Transitional Administrator also discussed with the Council possible alternatives and measures that the Government needs to adopt on a short term with a view to minimise the impact of the lack of these services, as well as the assistance UNTAET can provide until independence.
- There will be no public television or radio, unless a substitute mechanism is implemented with direct donor funding;
- The judicial and legislative services currently provided to the government will no longer be provided;
- There will no longer be simultaneous interpreting for the Constituent Assembly, unless national staff are recruited;
- Other services provided by UNTAET, such as internet access; telecommunication; including network between districts; reproduction machines including photocopiers; vehicles workshop, will be no longer provided to the government, Central Public Administration, district administrations, NGOs and the communities in the districts, including the ones where the future mission will be present;
- The current administrative and technical support provided by international staff to the government and Public Administration will be reduced to 100 international consultants financed directly by the United Nations assessed budget. The recruitment of additional 200 international consultants to provide assistance to the government after the independence is not certain yet (these posts would be financed by various sources with United Nations Development Program support).
- And finally, the future United Nations mission will not only be substantially different and much smaller, but it will also be present only at the mission headquarters in Dili and five other districts.
Finally, the Council approved a proposal to open foreign embassies and accredit diplomats in East Timor, as proposed by Senior Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation José Ramos-Horta. The Council decided that its policy shall be to encourage foreign governments to establish embassies in East Timor.
EAST TIMORESE TEAM PREPARES FOR BORDER SURVEY
An East Timorese government team of six surveyors has started preparations along the border with Indonesia for a bilateral survey to demarcate the countries’ common land borders.
A 10-day joint survey was scheduled to begin on 11 March but has been delayed for technical reasons by Indonesia.
“The Indonesians have asked us for the delay for technical reasons, and we totally understand that,” East Timor’s Senior Minister for Foreign Affairs José Ramos-Horta said today. “We expect to receive a date from the Indonesian Government as soon as possible so that we can actually start the joint survey,” he added.
The Indonesian Government has asked another technical meeting by the end of this week. East Timor is yet to respond.
The joint survey will include survey work on both sides of the tactical coordination lines that divide East Timor and West Timor and surround East Timor’s Oecussi enclave. The joint team will attempt to locate old border markers and study geological features, local social issues and technical issues during the survey.
Local communities on both sides will be consulted during the process. Security will be provided by members of the United Nations Peacekeeping Force and the Indonesian Armed Forces.
Details of the survey emerged after a bilateral meeting on 25 February, between Indonesia and UNTAET/East Timor.
A joint communiqué signed by UN Transitional Administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello and Indonesian Foreign Affairs Minister Hasan Wirayuda announced that the joint survey would begin in March and that agreement had been reached to start informal talks on maritime boundaries to prepare the groundwork for formal negotiations.
EAST TIMOR WELCOMES PHILLIPS’ TIMOR SEA GAS AGREEMENT
Today Phillips Petroleum announced that it has signed an agreement with The Tokyo Electric Power Company Incorporated and Tokyo Gas Co. Ltd. for the sale of three million tons per year of liquefied natural gas over a 17-year period. The gas will be sourced from the Bayu-Undan field in the Timor Sea and processed in the Northern Territory of Australia.
Chief Minister of the Transitional Government of East Timor Mari Alkatiri said today in Dili:
“I welcome today’s announcement by Phillips Petroleum that it has entered into an agreement for the sale of Bayu-Undan gas. This agreement is an indication that the international business community recognises that East Timor is working to create a positive atmosphere for investment.”
In December 2001, East Timor and Phillips Petroleum reached an understanding on a tax and fiscal package that will allow Bayu-Undan to be developed as a total project. Production from the gas recycle project will begin in 2004. Gas development, including a pipeline and LNG plant, will follow in 2006. Parts of the understanding remain subject to Australian regulatory approval.
The Chief Minister added: “Today’s announcement brings gas development in the Timor Sea and associated onshore investment in East Timor one step closer to reality.”
The Bayu-Undan project will proceed under the terms of the Timor Sea Treaty. The text of the Treaty was initialled on 5 July 2001 between East Timor and Australia, and will enter into force after East Timor’s independence on 20 May 2002.