Dili, 20 March 2002


Independence leader Xanana Gusmão today released a preliminary report detailing the results of a nationwide survey of 35,000 people who articulated their priorities, and vision for, East Timor’s development.

The report, presented by Gusmão in his capacity as Head of the Consultative Commission for the Civil Society on Development, will be key to the government’s formulation of a National Development Plan for East Timor.

“No other nation on the verge of its independence has had the wisdom or faith in its people to ask these questions,” Gusmão said as he handed the report to Chief Minister Marí Alkatiri. “No other nation has consulted the people so widely and so systematically. This is something unique that we all, as East Timorese, should be proud of,” he added.

Most of the results were collected during workshops in 503 villages throughout East Timor during a week-long period in late January. Out of the 35,000 people consulted, only a relatively small number provided input in written form.

Asked to name the three developmental issues they deemed of most importance, the respondents listed education (70%), health (49%), agriculture (32%), the economy (30%), roads (22%), poverty (18%), water (16%), electricity (12%).

Chief Minister Marí Alkatiri, who chairs the Governmental Commission on Planning, praised the “dynamic participation” by the population and said it could be possible to fulfill the people’s needs by 2020.

The consultation was funded by the UNDP and the Ireland Aid NGO.


Members of East Timor’s Constituent Assembly today discussed five different draft versions of the preamble to the territory’s first Constitution.

The drafts, presented by various political parties represented in the assembly, will next be synthesised by the assembly’s Systemization and Harmonization Committee into one single preamble that will be voted on by the plenary.

This morning and yesterday the assembly considered and then rejected a number of amendments to the draft Constitution. Those proposing the changes claimed that the Systemization and Harmonization Committee ignored certain critical issues raised by the public during a week-long district public consultation process.

The formal signing of the Constitution is expected by the end of this week.


A Government and UNTAET delegation left for Denpasar today for talks with Indonesian officials on speeding the repatriation of East Timorese refugees now living in West Timor and elsewhere in Indonesia.

The delegation from East Timor will be meeting with a wide range of Indonesian government agencies currently providing assistance to the refugees, as well as with UDAYANA Commander Brigadier General Willem da Costa and West Timor Governor Piet Tallo.

The UNHCR, UNICEF, UNDP, IOM and international and local NGO’s will also be sending representatives to the talks.

The repatriation issue was last discussed at a high-level during a trilateral meeting between East Timor, Indonesia and Australia late last month.

While no exact figures exist, it is estimated that there are no more than 70,000 refugees remaining in West Timor. The UNHCR, which is organizing the repatriations along with IOM and other groups, is hoping to maintain and improve upon the recent upsurge in refugee returns in the weeks immediately preceding and following East Timor’s 20 May independence.


Independence leader and Presidential candidate Xanana Gusmão will tomorrow appear on a “Meet the Press” program hosted by UNTAET’s radio and television networks.

The one-hour segment, aims to allow each of the two Presidential candidates equal time to express their political platforms and answer questions from journalists. Presidential candidate Xavier do Amaral, who is currently in hospital, is scheduled to appear on a “Meet the Press” program on March 28.

The segment will be broadcast live by Radio UNTAET and then in its entirety by UNTAET’s TVTL during prime time tomorrow night.

The “Meet the Press” format was first used in the run-up to last August’s Constituent Assembly elections and allowed each political party and independent national candidates to discuss their policies and visions for East Timor.

“Meet the Press” is part of an electoral assistance package by UNTAET and the UNDP to support the presidential candidates, in this case by giving them access to free airtime on radio and television.


East Timor’s Council of Ministers yesterday approved three key draft regulations establishing the organic structure of the Second Transitional Government of East Timor, the civil aviation legal framework, and the Port Administration of East Timor.

The Council also approved the Ministry of Transport and Communication’s proposal to establish an information technology service for the government and the Public Administration after independence. The proposal follows a briefing by Special Representative of the Secretary-General Sergio Vieira de Mello to the Council early last week on the several public services that will no longer be provided by the United Nations after 20 May 2002, when East Timor becomes fully independent.

The three draft regulations approved have been sent to SRSG Sergio Vieira de Mello for his consideration and approval.

The draft regulation on the government structure will legally create the Ministries and Secretaries of State of the current Second Transitional Government, and define its functions and internal rules. However, there is still a need to define each of the Public Administration services and its relationship with each ministry. A draft directive on these issues is expected to be approved by the Council soon.

The Port Administration regulation creates a public institute with the responsibility of managing, administrating and developing East Timor’s ports.

In addition, the Council approved the “Strengthening Capacity for Analysing Poverty” project presented by Economic Affairs and Planning Ministry. Its goal is to strengthen the capacity of the Economic Affairs and Statistic Division of the Ministry in collecting, analysing and disseminating information collected on poverty. This follows the partnership established two years ago between the World Bank, the Asian Development Bank and the United Nations Development Programme to formulate national policies to fight poverty. The World Bank will fund this project with US$230,000.

Finally, the Council approved Ministry of Finance recommendations regarding changes to the current budget to cover an existing deficit of US$4.36 million from donor contributions.