UN representative apologizes to East Timorese for failure to predict violence

News and Press Release
Originally published
Sergio Vieira de Mello, head of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor, today apologized for the UN's failure "to predict and prevent" the violence that followed the August referendum, the spokesman for the Secretary-General said in New York.
"For that I ask forgiveness from the people of East Timor," the spokesman quoted him as saying during an address to a crowd of 5,000 in the coffee-growing district of Ermera, which he visited together with independence leader, Xanana Gusmao.

Mr. de Mello said: "I would be ashamed not to acknowledge what happened. To deserve the generosity and hospitality of the Timorese people, we have to acknowledge our mistakes and shortcomings." "We are going to make East Timor an example of democracy, tolerance and justice" in the future, the spokesman also quoted him as saying.