By Max Lane
A formal administration of East Timor by the United Nations was established on November 27 when the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) issued its first regulation.
The regulation claimed "all legislative and executive authority ... including the administration of the judiciary", vested the "transitional administrator" — Sergio Viera de Mello, the special representative of the UN secretary-general.
The regulation also claims UNTAET authority over all property or bank accounts held in the name of the Republic of Indonesia in East Timor before August 30, and all property abandoned after August 30.
The transitional administrator will have full power to hire and fire for any position in the civil administration, including the judiciary.
The regulation states, "The Transitional Administrator shall consult and cooperate closely with representatives of the East Timorese people". The regulation itself makes no mention of any mechanism for consultation.
AFP news agency reported that at the ceremony promulgating the regulation, de Mello said he will head a 15-member National Consultative Committee, which will include representatives from the church and the pro-independence umbrella organisation, the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT), headed by Xanana Gusmao.
Comparing the committee to a cabinet, de Mello expressed hope that the committee could be formed soon and hold its first meeting next week.
Gusmao, who attended the ceremony, pledged that CNRT would work together with UNTAET.
The body will look at policies and legislative proposals, debate and agree on the texts, which de Mello will then promulgate. "But we will avoid voting; I think we should reach decisions by consensus", de Mello said. He added that the committee will be assisted by several subcommittees in areas such as health and transportation.
At the time the regulation was promulgated, the composition of the council had not been finalised.
The regulation also declares that Indonesian law that applied before October 25 shall continue to apply, except when it contradicts various UN conventions or the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Six Indonesian laws were specifically declared inapplicable in East Timor, including the Anti-Subversion Law, Law on Social Organisations and Law on National Security. The regulation also abolished capital punishment.