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Gusmao to UN: 'We don't want a legacy of cars'
10 October 2000
Edited from the Sydney Morning Herald, Mark Dodd from Dili.
The East Timor independence leader, Mr Xanana Gusmao, has launched a stinging public attack on the United Nations mission, accusing it of failing to engage East Timorese in the transitional process to independence.
In a speech yesterday, which summarised the results of the August national congress of the CNRT (National Council of Timorese Resistance), Mr Gusmao warned of more difficult times ahead for East Timor. He accused the UN of tokenism, and savaged his political opponents for undermining the development of democracy in East Timor.
"We are not interested in a legacy of cars and laws, nor are we interested in a legacy of development plans for the future designed by [people] other than East Timorese," Mr Gusmao said in a reference to the hundreds of white UN four-wheel-drive vehicles seen around Dili and the succession of regulations being passed by the UN transitional administration in East Timor.
"We are not interested in inheriting an economic rationale which leaves out the social and political complexity of East Timorese reality.
"Nor do we wish to inherit the heavy decision-making and project implementation mechanisms in which the role of the East Timorese is to give their consent as observers rather than the active players we should start to be."
The freewheeling lifestyles of UN international staff and expatriates enjoying high salaries and allowances was contrasted with the poor living conditions of most East Timorese still recovering from last year's militia violence, which left most of the country looking like a war zone.
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