Hours after gaining independence, East Timor starts process to join UN

Hours after gaining independence, East Timor starts process to join UN

Just hours after gaining independence, East Timor today presented Secretary-General Kofi Annan with a resolution requesting membership in the United Nations.

"I will be honoured to pass on your request to the Security Council, which I am sure will recommend it unanimously to the General Assembly," the Secretary-General said in his remarks to the inaugural session of the parliament, which was sworn in early Monday morning after more than 120,000 people celebrated the birth of the world's newest nation at a massive ceremony on the outskirts of the capital, Dili.

"Membership of the United Nations is open to any country that accepts the obligations specified in the organization's Charter and supports its mission," he added. "Having seen the extraordinary support you received from so many nations around the world at last night's festivities, I do not anticipate any obstacle to your membership."

President Xanana Gusmão officially inaugurated the new government, composed primarily of the same cabinet members that made up the pre-independence Council of Ministers. Some 300 dignitaries attended the ceremonies, which in addition to Mr. Annan included President Jorge Sampaio of Portugal, Prime Minister John Howard of Australia and former United States President Bill Clinton.

After the inauguration, an independence parade that included members of the East Timor Defence Force, Police Service and ex-Falintil soldiers passed in front of the government building.

Later in the morning Chief Minister Mari Alkatiri and Prime Minister Howard signed the Timor Gap Treaty, which is slated to bring East Timor significant oil and gas revenue in the years to come.

This afternoon East Timor also formally requested entry into the Community of Portuguese Speaking Nations (CPLP) with its final acceptance to be announced at the next summit in Brazil in July.

Before departing East Timor this afternoon Mr. Annan opened the renovated UN House in Dili, where he reiterated the UN's commitment to promoting development and alleviating poverty in an independent East Timor.

"The new mission, UNMISET [UN Mission of Support in East Timor], will focus its efforts on consolidating a stable environment," Mr. Annan stressed. "The UN agencies will play their role, alongside the bilateral donors, in promoting development and alleviating poverty."