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Top UN, East Timorese officials discuss plans for transition to independence

Top UN, East Timorese officials discuss plans for transition to independence

The head of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) met today with president-elect Xanana Gusmão and the government’s top minister to discuss events and arrangements leading up to the territory’s transition to nationhood next month.

The four-hour session with Mr. Gusmão and Chief Minister Mari Alkatiri, which was held at the invitation of UNTAET chief Sergio Vieira de Mello, focused on the final weeks of UN administration before East Timor celebrates its independence on 20 May. Key upcoming events include a meeting of the UN Security Council in New York on 26 April, which will be attended by the two East Timorese leaders and a conference of major foreign donors to be held in Dili from 14 to 15 May.

The three officials also talked about the setting up of the Office of the President as well as preparations for the official Independence Celebrations, including the participation of ex-FALANTIL freedom fighters.

“On all issues there was consensus and complete agreement,” Mr. Vieira de Mello said after the meeting.

Meanwhile, the Legislative Assembly today set up a special committee to consider high-priority legislation targeted for passage before East Timor gains independence.

The multi-partisan committee is expected to consider first a bill that would create an independent Public Broadcasting Service to succeed UN-run public radio and television after 20 May.

The broadcasting bill was among several pieces of legislation approved by East Timor’s Council of Ministers and forwarded to the Assembly yesterday by Mr. Vieira de Mello.

Mr. Gusmão is scheduled to visit the Assembly tomorrow morning and meet with Assembly Speaker Francisco “Lu-Olo” Guterres.