Monthly Archives: November 2006

News update

On the 12th November, commemoration day of the Santa Cruze Massacre, some of
the youth in Dili held demonstrations calling for peace and an end to the
violence between the eastern and western people. This met with a mixed
response. A good response from many of the barios in Dili, including Loro
Mata and Fatahada. The youths themselves have set up gardening projects, english teaching and sports programmes. These are going well, and on the whole Dili is seems much quieter, unfortunately, there are still some problems in Dili and now in some of the districts.

On the 12th November, fighting broke out in Baucau and one Timorese police
officer was hurt. On the same day fighting occurred in Los Palos town.
Since I came back to Dili I have heard there has been fighting in Ermine,
and other western districts. I will try to give more information on this

In Dili, one of the leaders of the marshal arts group who was calling for
peace was murdered, it is said by his own group because they were unhappy
about his message. His body was left outside the Fretlin conference rooms
near Loro Mata. A second marshal arts leader, who was televised calling
for peace, is in hiding again from his own group. One man from Viqueque and one man from Brazil were murdered while I was in Los Palos.

Last night one man, who was attending a festival in Villa Verde was killed.
I am told he was from Los Palos.

I am told there have been no more sexually motivated muggings against women
in Dili for three weeks. Am pleased to report the policing has improved in
the areas these were occurring, the UN police hope to prosecute two men
responsible for some of the attacks based on information I gave after my

In the meantime Alfrado Reinaldo, still heavily armed with illegal weapons,
appeared on a news bulletin this morning, saying he had the right to escape
from prison, he is not guilty of any crimes and does not agree with the UN
report which says he should be apprehended. Although the television crew
and the Timor Post have no problems finding him, seems the international
force and police authorities are impotent were Reinaldo is concerned, and
unable to re-arrest him.

One can only speculate on why Reinaldo, a criminal, is once again being
treated as a ‘media star.’

In solidarity Lidia

Who is behind the violence?

I agree with what Fretilin are saying – once again the violence has lessened and leaders of marshal arts group – as you know some of the violence has been attributed to these groups, are being paraded on TV calling for an end to the violence and a restoration of peace, there is feeling of tension in the air. I personally think it is a gross simplification to blame just the marshal arts groups for the violence, if there is to be any peace and justice in East Timor who was motivating the groups to commit ‘political violence’ needs investigating, can’t see this happening too many top people implicated here and in other countries.

I have been told that on the 12th November, (I was in Mehara) the youth marched around Dili calling for peace. This was because there was a service commemorating the Santa Cruze massacre. But since then there have been 3 killings.

One man living in Imutine, but coming from the western region of Timor, not sure exactly which district. I have been told he was one of the leaders of the gang that caused much of the problems in Loro Mata and Fatahada. Apparently he told his gang that what they had been doing was wrong and they should now stop the killing, burning and looting and should have a traditional timorese healing ceremony – this means meeting the people they have committed violence against and asking for forgiveness. Some of his members did not agree and they answer was to kill him (have to check this version out) but do know that his body was placed outside the Fretilin headquarters, nr Loro Mata.

One man from Viqueque killed, not sure where.

One man from Brazil killed near the beach.

IOM is doing some research in villages in Dili on the violence, know someone participating in the research, one of the questions is:

How would you feel if houses in your village were rebuilt and people from Loro Sae came back to live here. (there is now an official recognition that it was mainly homes of people coming from the eastern regions that were destroyed)

The reply is mixed, some chiefs say they are very sad that houses belonging to friends have been burned and they vouch for the safety of ‘Loro Sae’ people if they came back, but in Bebenock and Becora the chiefs say they could not guarantee the safety of ‘Loro Sae” people if they came back here.

I was told one succo head said:

‘the youth here do not listen to me and the elders any more, they are always drinking and fighting. They say they will kill Loro Sae people if they come back here. I want to know where they get the money for drink and knives from, none of them work.

I know they have been paid to commit this violence, and disrespect their elders.”

My source asked if she could give his name, but he said:

“oh, my daughter I am sorry I cannot give my name. I would be dead in the morning if I gave my name’

My source also told me that in some of the villages they were shouting if there is anyone from Loro Sae in this car we will kill them. She was very frightened, she is from Los Palos, but the driver was from Iliou and he said no we are all from the west.


Fretilin Situation Analysis and Perspectives

Situation Analysis and Perspectives

FRETILIN’s Central Committee convened in Dili on 29 October 2006 to
discuss the situation in the country and, particularly, in the capital
city of Dili. The Central Committee drew the following conclusions:
The crisis, its origins and development
1.      The crisis currently affecting
Timor-Leste is essentially a political conflict. The disregard for the
country’s democratic constitutional framework and the ways and means used
to bring about a crisis reflect the anti-democratic and coup-like nature
of recent events.

2. The moves aimed at disrupting constitutional rule involved both
internal and external actors. There were various stages in the process,
which took many different forms, viz.:

the attempt to force the establishment of a Government of National Unity
in 2002;

the political pressure aimed at bringing about new elections in

the attempt at overthrowing the Government on 4 December 2002;

the demonstrations throughout 2003 using various fringe groups within the

the attempt at a political manipulation of the veterans’ issue, including
the demonstration by former commander L-7 and other veterans in

the demonstration convened by the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in
2005 and, finally,

the demonstration by the petitioners in April 2006

the breakdown of institutional solidarity which is a prerequisite to a
smooth collaboration between organs of sovereignty and

the current crisis;
3. Over the past four years, a carefully designed counter-intelligence
plan was gradually implemented. Actions undertaken included:

creating a climate of rivalry and mutual suspicion between F-FDTL and

using the media and rumours to tarnish the Government’s image, and
particularly that of its Prime Minister;

stressing the different approaches taken by the President of the Republic
and the Prime Minister and driving a wedge between the two, thus
undermining their institutional relationship,

creating a split within FRETILIN and undermining its leadership;

organizing groups for recurrent demonstrations;

creating an atmosphere of chaos and nongovernability;

enticing the Armed Forces into staging a coup aimed at “saving the
country” and overthrowing a supposedly “unpopular government”;.

4. However, the High Command of F-FDTL took a clear stand in support of
Timor-Leste’s Constitution and democratically-elected institutions. The
mentors of the abovementioned plan had therefore to resort to:

creating a split within F-FDTL to undermine the institution;

enticing PNTL so as to ensure its inaction when the time came to defend
democratically-elected institutions; as well as creating a split within
the Police Forces with a view to ensure the support of part of the forces
to the actions aimed at overthrowing the Government;

turning the issue engendered within F-FDTL of an alleged “discrimination”
Loro Monu/Loro Sa´e into a nationwide issue; and making the Loro
Monu/Loro Sa´e issue bear on all State institutions, in particular
defense and security institutions;

mobilizing and organizing small groups to stage demonstrations and to
engage in widespread violence with a view to disrupting daily life and
creating an atmosphere of nongovernability;

denouncing the Government’s “inability and ineptitude” in solving the
crisis and thus demanding its dismissal;

striking hard at the party holding power, denouncing the illegal status
of its leadership so as to create a more favourable setting for the
establishment of a new Government;

to masquerade as much as possible the overthrow of the Prime Minister, to
make it look not as a coup but as a legal act pursuant to the President
of the Republic’s constitutional powers;

in order to achieve this a) pressuring the Prime Minister and demanding
his resignation and b) faking respect for the Constitution in the
establishment of a new cabinet by calling it 2nd
Constitutional Government.

in so doing, creating a feeling of injustice and leaving the new
Government under a cloud of suspicion regarding its legitimacy;

on the whole, causing a crisis amongst leaders at all levels of the
State, thus beheading the Nation, causing the breakdown of the State’s
authority and putting Timor-Leste’s sovereignty into jeopardy.
The current crisis has resulted from a set of coordinated actions typical
of a well-designed and well-executed conspiracy.
The main objective of the conspiracy was to strike at the country’s
historical leadership so as to behead the Nation, cause a breakdown of
the State’s authority and jeopardize national sovereignty.
The main weapons used were, on the one hand, a disinformation and
counter-information campaign that resorted to rumours and allegations of
all kinds. And, on the other hand, acts of violence against citizens and
their property with a view to deepen inter-group or inter-regional
conflicts, falsely described as being ethnic conflicts.
The main stage in the implementation of this conspiratorial plan required
undermining of the country’s defense and security institutions and
driving a wedge between national leaders, putting them against one
In order to create a split within the country’s leadership, many
different means were used. The struggle for power was depicted as the
main cause behind the conflict. When others approaches failed,
allegations were produced about crimes that had supposedly been
committed. This was aimed at “sowing a seed of mistrust” in an already
fertile soil of deep institutional crisis;
As there were no crimes, they had to be concocted by counter-intelligence
services using the national and international media. Examples of alleged
crimes include the “massacre” in Tasi Tolu, the “death squads”, “the
illegal import and distribution of weapons by FRETILIN”. The alleged
crimes made the headlines of several newspapers and were aired on
prime-time television and radio networks. The rumours got into people’s
minds but have now been proved to be completely unfounded;
Once again, the media, and particularly some Australian media, played a
crucial role in this orchestrated campaign which was typical of a
However, the objectives the abovementioned actions were not fully
achieved. They included:
overthrowing the Government,

dissolving the National Parliament,

controlling the judiciary and placing it at the service of the

establishing a “Government of National Unity” and postponing

dismembering F-FDTL,

“taming” FRETILIN, by replacing its leaders with more individuals more
prone to manipulation.
We believe that a “Plan B” could now be set into motion. Such plan would
involve, on the one hand, more selective terrorist activities. And, on
the other hand, a careful and more extensive use of measures in the realm
of politics, administration, the economy and the judiciary with a view to
undermining even further the authority of the State, beheading the Nation
by getting rid of its historical leadership, stirring up communities to
provoke a widespread reaction and to bring about an atmosphere of
generalized social and political unrest. Under such circumstances,
Timor-Leste could be declared a failed state and that would warrant a
more forceful and extensive intervention in the name of humanitarian
needs and regional and international security.
II. The Report by the International Commission of Inquiry
In the wake of a request submitted by the Government of Timor-Leste,
the United Nations set up an Independent Commission of Inquiry to
establish some of the facts that occurred at the beginning of the crisis,
viz. the incidents on 28-29 April and 23-25 May and other related events
or issues, and to recommend measures to ensure accountability.
The Commission completed its work and submitted a report to the National
Parliament. Copies were also provided to Timor-Leste’s other organs of
sovereignty. The report was also submitted to His Excellency the
Secretary-General of the UN and to the Chairperson of the UN Committee on
Human Rights. The report makes reference to more than 2,000 documents
that were examined and to some 200 interviews that were arranged by the
Commission. However, no annex was included with documentary proof to
support the findings and recommendations included in the report.
The report is lacking in some respects. But in the other areas, it
clearly goes beyond the Commission’s mandate. For instance, when the
report refers to the 4 December 2002 incident. At the time, UNMISET had
sole responsibility for defense and security. Responsibility for dealing
with the serious disruption of public order that occurred at the time can
in no way be placed with the Government and PNTL, as is stated in the
report. The home of the Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri was burned, as were
other infrastructures, and the inquiry should have been conducted by the
International Police.
The Commission’s efforts to provide an historical introduction, in
particular of Timor-Leste’s last three decades, are commendable and
suggest a serious intellectual pursuit of the historical roots for the
crisis. However, the Commission overlooks the crisis’s proximate causes,
by stating facts without relating them to their causes. And it ignores
other facts that are just as important as those included in the
The Commission carried out an in-depth investigation into some of the
most serious allegations, which were shown to be false. However, that has
not been made public in the report. One example is the false allegation
regarding the existence of three containers with “illegally imported”
weapons. The Commission also failed to state very clearly, as was its
duty, that the allegation that FRETILIN had distributed weapons was also
false. If the Commission was able to determine that there was no illegal
import of weapons, and that FRETILIN did not distribute weapons amongst
delegates to its party congress nor to any one else, why are such facts
omitted from the report?
The Commission makes reference to institutional shortcomings and to the
fact that institutional mechanisms were not used or were bypassed, adding
that some of those in charge of organs of sovereignty failed to use their
firm authority. In so doing, the Commission omits the Prime Minister’s
endeavours, viz.:

            1. A
letter to Portuguese Prime Minister José Sócrates (10 May 2006)
requesting the deployment of a GNR company:

            2. A
letter to the President of the Republic Xanana Gusmão (27 May 2006)
asking him to convene the Council of State and the Superior Council for
Defense and Security;

Keeping the Crisis Cabinet operational until his resignation on 26 June
2006, inter alia;

Establishing a Commission of Notables;

Establishing a co-ordination mechanism between F-FDTL and PNTL;
The Commission dealt with the evidence before it in an unbalanced way.
Regarding F-FDTL, it took the mobilization of reservists as being
equivalent to “supplying weapons to civilians” and concluded that
responsibility for this lay with the Minister of Defense and the key
figures in F-FDTL’s High Command who should therefore be prosecuted.
However, the Commission was far more lenient with PNTL. It did not
recommend that PNTL’s General Commander be prosecuted, preferring to put
all the blame on the Minister of the Interior. In so doing, it blatantly
ignored the fact that it was the General Commander who was responsible
for the breakdown of PNTL, that it was him who evaded his duties before
the Government and took orders from other entities;
In the report, the Commission ignored the various meetings held at
Palácio das Cinzas and at the President of the Republic Xanana Gusmão’s
residence, choosing to pass over the matters discussed at those
It also ignored the meetings between the then Minister of Foreign Affairs
and Cooperation and individuals such as Alfredo, Railos, Tara, etc. which
were the object of extensive media coverage at the time.
It also ignored the role played by the SRSG in Timor-Leste, Mr. Sukehiro
The Commission did not address the Loro Monu/Loro Sa´e issue in depth
with a view to assigning responsibilities for this artificial division
brought forth in Timor-Leste’s society;
The Commission also chose to ignore the role of the hierarchy of the
Catholic Church, and made no reference to key individuals from opposition
parties who were involved in actions aimed at undermining the State;
However, in its recommendations, the Commission went beyond its mandate
by recommending “solutions” purportedly aimed at strengthening the
Thus, the Commission failed in completing the task it had set itself. Its
report gave us half-truths. Contrary to expectations, it does not
contribute to solve the crisis. The report is valued for what it is
worth, and it should be assessed in a critical and unambiguous
It is now up to Timor-Leste’s organs of sovereignty to boldly take the
decisions that the current circumstances require, so as to put an end to
the ongoing crisis.
III. The responsibilities of the Timorese leadership
A country like Timor-Leste, which was born out of a long struggle for
national liberation, depends upon the resoluteness of its People and upon
the ability of its leadership to mobilize and unite the People around the
Nation’s main goals.
Traditionally, countries like ours have been intentionally set off course
by a range of actions including:
creating splits within the leadership and separating it from the

undermining institutions and individuals of particular symbolic value
from the viewpoint of asserting nationhood,

dividing the people in order to rule.
We have to acknowledge that the ongoing crisis presents all these
And that Timor-Leste’s historical leadership fell into a well-set trap, a
well-designed conspiracy involving internal and external actors.
Timor-Leste’s historical leadership should therefore acknowledge, in a
unanimous and straightforward manner:
that we gave leeway to political manipulation;

that there are collective, as well as individual

that such responsibilities must be the object of an in-depth analysis and
that the origins of the crisis have to be identified,

that the whole truth has to be made public so that the People may know
what has happened.

that justice has to be made and that this should contribute to put an end
to the crisis.
At this crucial moment in time, the Timorese Leadership must be able to
overcome their differences. Together, we must fight to reassert national
dignity, to restore Law and Order, to reaffirm the State’s authority in
all realms of society, to reassert national sovereignty and
The Government and the National Parliament must take a more resolute
stand in defending the sovereignty of the State. More forceful measures
must be adopted with a view to normalizing the security situation and
reactivating PNTL, so as to allow displaced people to return to their
places of origin.
The Government and the National Parliament should undertake all the
necessary steps aimed at ensuring that the elections take place on the
required dates, pursuant to Timor-Leste’s Constitution.
FRETILIN strongly appeals to all its members to contribute to putting an
end to violence, by courageously denouncing to the authorities any
individuals involved in unlawful acts.
The people of Timor-Leste want this to happen, and they want it to happen
Dili, 29 October 2006.

The Central Committee of FRETILIN




Mari Alkatiri


Dili, 15 Nov. (AKI) – East Timor Prime Minister, Jose Ramos-Horta
accused renegade soldier, Major Alfredo Reinado Alves and civilian
militia group leader, Vicente “Railos” da Conceicao, of still holding
weapons and urged them to surrender them. “I have credible
information that Major Reinado and Railos groups are still holding
automatic weapons and I do not know what for. To stop the bloodshed
in East Timor, I urge them to hand the rest of the weapons to the
international troops or UNPOL (United Nation police),” Ramos-Horta
told Adnkronos International (AKI).

Australian-trained Major Reinado deserted on 4 May 2006 to join
approximately 600 former soldiers who had been sacked after
complaining of discrimination in promotions. Their dismissal started
the East Timor crisis. Arrested for his role in the violence, Major
Reinado is still at large after having escaped from prison on 30 August.

Vicente “Railos” da Conceicao is the leader of a civilian militia
allegedly set up by former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri to get rid of
his political adversaries.

Both Major Reinado and Vicente “Railos” da Conceicao have allegedly
handed in their weapons in the past few months.

Horta underlined that a failure to comply with his ultimatum will
lead to dire consequences.

“It is the international troops’ duty to hunt down people who have no
right to hold weapons like Major Alfredo and the Railos group. There
will be no mercy for them if they are still holding weapons,”
Ramos-Horta told AKI adding that the two rebels were hiding in the forests.

The premier’s words angered militia leader “Railos” da Conceicao, met
by Adnkronos International in his house in Liquica town.

Railos, who said that he never left his town, defined Ramos-Horta as
“a not very intelligent man,” and said that the prime minister has no
evidence and does not really want to solve the problem.

“I never left Liquica town and run to the forest as Horta said. My
group and I handed over our weapons to the international troops in
front of Horta himself and other dignitaries in July. How can he
still accuse me of holding weapons? This is a serious accusation,” he
told AKI.

“Horta is not very cleaver and lacks the political will to solve the
problem,” Railos added.

Railos militia’s weapons were distributed from a branch of the
security apparatus arsenal. In the meantime, UNMIT acting
Administrator, Finn Reske-Nielsen in Dili confirmed that 96 percent
of the weapons have now been collected and are accounted for.

“Well over 3,000 weapons have been collected already, including the
vast majority of the long-barrel weapons,” Reske-Nielsen told AKI.

However, UNPOL commissioner in East Timor, Antero Lopes, said that
there are some 200 weapons that belong to national police still
unaccounted for.

“About 200 of the PNTL [East Timor police]’s weapons that have been
distributed have not been recovered yet and we are tracing them,” Lopes added.

Hugs, tears in Dili lift peace hopes

Lindsay Murdoch, Darwin
November 15, 2006

AFTER months of violence, hundreds of youths from rival gangs have
gathered on the streets of Dili to embrace each other, shed tears and
celebrate a fragile peace.

“It seems that peace, not war, is breaking out in East Timor,” the
country’s Prime Minister, Jose Ramos Horta, said yesterday.

Despite more than 60,000 people still living in squalid refugee camps
too afraid to return to their homes, and armed rebels remaining at
large in East Timor’s mountains, Mr Ramos Horta said recent meetings
involving himself, President Xanana Gusmao and leaders of the
country’s army and police may mark the end of months of violence that
left more than 30 dead and 2000 homes and buildings destroyed.

The Prime Minister said he had heard “honest and humble words” from
the army and police leaders and they had pledged to work together for
reconciliation, stability and peace.

“To consolidate peace, much more needs to be done in the coming days
and weeks, but no matter what obstacles are placed in front of us we
will not give up on seeking peace, harmony and democracy,” he said in
a statement released in Dili.

Mr Ramos Horta said that over the past few days more than 1000 youths
had shed tears and embraced each other in peace rallies on the main
road between Dili and the airport, the scene of some of the worst
recent violence. A formal meeting of all of East Timor’s political
actors would be held in Dili on November 21.

Mr Ramos Horta, who took office in June at the height of political
upheaval, said that as Defence Minister it was his responsibility to
ensure East Timor’s 800-strong military was armed, but he said he
would not buy more weapons for the police or army.

“There are too many weapons in our country as it is,” he said.

“All of us have seen too much killing, too much violence and too much mourning.

“I see my role as looking after the minds and souls of our military
and police. Enough of guns!”

Interview with General Secretary of Fretilin, Mari Alkatiri, in Dili

Interview with General Secretary of Fretilin, Mari
Alkatiri, in Dili
Sunday, November 6 2006

By John Loizou
Southeast Asian Times online

Published 9.11.06

Is it possible to quantify how much the coup has cost
East Timor’s economic development?
It’s very, very difficult to do that now. It will
delay the execution of the current budget – the budget
of this fiscal year – and the budget for the last
fiscal year. But above all it has destroyed some
institutions and suspended others. The result is that
East Timor’s major problem now is its lack of
leadership and State authority. As you can very easily
see, there is no State authority in East Timor now;
the leadership is getting weaker and weaker and there
is an urgent need to recover from the crisis. This
will only happen through a joint effort of the

Who do you mean when you say the leadership?

The real national leadership in this country totals no
more than five people. The president, Xanana Gusmao,
the current prime minister, Jose Ramos Horta, the
president of the parliament, the commander of the
army…and myself of course. It’s very difficult for me
to say this but it’s a reality that as secretary
general of the country’s major political party, I
still have a role to play.

But is this happening? Is there an effort to create a
concerted effort among this five?

Not yet.

There is much effort by many people – Timorese and
non-Timorese to make it possible – to make it happen
but up till now no result.

What’s the major impediment?

I still don’t know. But I think it’s linked to a lack
of capacity by some to recognise their mistakes in a
concrete and objective way and not as a general
statement and a lack of capacity also to recognise
that our major mistake as leaders was to start
fighting each other as the result of much manipulation
promoted by others.

Who are these ‘others’?

This crisis was the result of a conspiracy. I have no
doubt about that.

By who or whom?

I can’t really identify individuals but from the facts
you can conclude that it was a conspiracy. It started
long ago. It started in 2001, 2002 and it’s going on
and on every year against the government.

Last year, as you know, the Catholic Church organized
the people for demonstrations for three weeks and they
failed. Since then they were always trying to get
support from institutions and individuals within the
country. Always with the same purpose: To force the
government to step down.

You are saying that the Church did this?

The Catholic Church. But the Catholic Church was not
alone. I don’t say it was the ‘whole’ Catholic Church.
But it was the hierarchy. And they were joined by
other groups. People from the opposition parties and
illegal groups within the country.

You mean militia or martial arts groups?

Not really martial arts but irregular organizations
that at the time of resistance even played a role
within the resistance movement.

They were from within the resistance or were part of
the resistance?


But why were they so disaffected that they started
causing trouble for the government?
There were some groups who joined the resistance for
their own purpose. It was not their clear objective to
fight for independence. What they were looking for was
to get the Indonesians out and then take their place.

You mean they wanted to get the Indonesians out and
then inherit the situation?


You have said there might have been a civil war if you
had not resigned?

I have no doubt of it.

But who would have fought the civil war and what would
have been the outcome?

I knew that if I had decided to resist all the
pressure to step down, I would have got support from
most of the members of Fretilin. It meant that they
would either have come down to Dili to resist or they
would do it in other districts. But they would do it
and we would really have had bloodshed and a civil
war. This is one of the reasons why I decided to give
up – to avoid the civil war and bloodshed. And I’m
sure that if it happened Fretilin would win. But this
is not the time to win power through bloodshed and
civil war. I would never accept staying as prime
minister in the government if it meant a civil war.

What, if any, are the similarities of UDT’s coup of
August 1975 and the civil war that followed –
especially remembering the activities of the
anti-communist movement?

There are some similarities but in a different
context. When UDT staged its coup, we were fully aware
that after the coup we would be invaded by Indonesia.
That is why we fought against the coup. We were also
fully aware that the civil war would take a short
time. Now the situation is completely different.

So in other words the civil war would have been very
protracted if it came?


But you went to war in August 1975 knowing that the
consequences would be the arrival of the Indonesians?


Let us return to the Church. If it is the hierarchy
and other individuals why are they doing it?

Some people try to attribute their effort to ‘bad’
government. But they can’t really sustain this
argument because in our four years of government we
were considered by many, many development parties and
institutions as one of the best examples in the world.
There is no argument about this. And there is evidence
for it. Now they are trying to argue that it was
because the prime minister was arrogant. But this is
not reason enough for a coup particularly when such a
coup will ‘push back’ the country for years. To say
the reason is that the prime minister doesn’t smile is
no reason. Not only ‘push the country back’ but leave
thousands of people homeless. There is no argument to
defend this view. But I think and I do believe –
although they never say it – that the main reason was
that the prime minister was not a Catholic. And all
their actions were against the constitution.

But if I was to say that you have said that the
campaign against you was mounted because you were not
Catholic what will be the hierarchy’s response?

They will deny it. They will try to say it was my
mistake. I was arrogant and there was no effort to
create jobs. They will say many things like that.

But what would such an allegation do to your support
base within the country?

When the government inherits a vacuum in State
institutions the major priority for this government is
to create the State. It means public administration,
other institutions, defence and security and it means
most of the resources they get from international
donors must go to education, health and some
infrastructure. It was only a year ago – August
September last year – that we started to receive money
from oil and gas. That is why our budget this year is
a big budget. We couldn’t do the same two or three
years ago.

But what I’m saying is that we are in a supposedly
Catholic country so if you are going to sit there as
general secretary of Fretilin and say the Church tried
to bring me down because I’m not a Catholic what is
that Church going to do…

No, no, I’m sure that this is not a problem for the
people of this country.

Yes but what will be their response when you attack
the Church?

They will tell me not to worry about this. You are the
secretary general of Fretilin because you are a
founder of Fretilin. You are working well for the
people and this has nothing to do with religion. A
majority of the people will support me.

If we accept this thesis that the Church did what it

I can’t see another reason.

You say that your opponents wanted to form a
government of national unity. So what part did people
like the president and the new prime minister play.
Were they part of it before it all happened or were
they opportunist?

No. They were facing a clear problem with some groups
spreading violence and aiming to have the prime
minister step down and the situation was difficult to
control by our own forces because the police and army
were fighting each other and then they thought it was
the best solution.

So you think they acted in good faith?

Not in good faith. The best solution would have been
to strengthen the institutions in solidarity. Not to
force the prime minister to step down because others
wanted them to do so. They should have supported the

But why didn’t they?

In my view, lack of courage.

You have argued that although the international force
has stabilized the situation, they really don’t
understand what has happened. Why?

Because they still think that the crisis here is a
power struggle between the prime minister, the former
prime minister and the president. But I reject fully,
this argument.

So they still adhere to this theory?


Do they know the identity of those members of the
martial artists and the militia who are promoting the

They are becoming more familiar with the situation but
still they think that the initial reason for the whole
crisis came from a power struggle.

Do you think the ignoring of the constitution makes
the constitution inoperative?

No. It’s operative because as the major party we
decided to keep defending the constitution and try to
have people work again within the framework of the
constitution. Now we are working within the framework
of that constitution. We have accepted the situation
and what we are doing is defending the constitution.

You say the national leadership – the five you have
listed – made mistakes and they have to recognise
those mistakes. So what do you think were your

I never thought that it would be possible for minor
groups to be successful in forcing the prime minister
of a major party to step down.

So you underestimated your opponents?

Yes, I underestimated them. But in I also should have
paid more attention to the army and to the police. And
I should have paid more attention to the grassroots
organization of the party. We should also have worked
better with the media to inform public opinion. We did
a lot of things and people didn’t know.

East Timor was beginning to increase its yearly rice
production. Now it’s gone back. How long will that
take to recover?

Not less than three or four years.

If the leadership was to reunite and the State was
re-established what would be the priorities.

The priority is to rebuild the entire State
institutions again.

But what are the economic priorities?

If you don’t have an efficient public administration
and you start investing money in the economy you will
have corruption. So we must try and strengthen the
sub-national sectors of the public administration.
Districts and sub-districts. Strengthen them. And of
course you need to invest.

Infrastructure. Human development. Community
development. All are included in the current action
plan. But now with this crisis I think we need to
invest, we need to get jobs. We need to prepare the
people with skills for the jobs. But above all we need
to strengthen State institutions. All this will take
at least three or four years.

And what about the marine boundary with Australia?

Our priority is to make the country economically
independent and to avoid getting loans from others.
That’s why we decided to negotiate with Australia as a
priority the joint exploration and exploitation of
natural resources and it was a successful negotiation
with good results for Timor. Ninety percent from the
(joint authority) 50 percent from Sunrise and we were
thinking of pushing for the pipeline from Sunrise to
Timor-Leste. Now it will be more difficult but we will
keep pushing. But we are now in a very comfortable
financial situation. We have our own resources. We
have enough resources to start developing the country.
But what we need now is find out how to refine the
partnership between the state and civil society and to
redefine the partnership between Timor-Leste and
foreign investors and countries that have been
assisting us during the last five or six years.

So do you think parliament will still ratify the

I think so. Maybe with some reservations but I think
they will ratify it.

When do you think it will happen?

Maybe before the end of the year.

The commander of the army has said that Australian
troops here should be under UN control . Do you agree?

It’s the common position of many leaders and
institutions in Timor-Leste, including me. But the
reality is this: To have the Australian army as part
of the blue berets needs a resolution from the UN
Security Council and we can’t get it without
objections from the United States and Britain and
that’s why it’s better to be creative here and try to
set up a unified command. That would mean a trilateral
agreement between the government of Timor-Leste, the
United Nations and the coalition of forces led by
Australia and to have a unified command where the
commander of our army would participate.

So how long will the Timorese army stay in its

The present situation is unsustainable. We need to get
the army involved and the sooner the better.
Side-by-side with the international forces. This is
why the unified command is so important. I don’t think
it’s difficult to get it.

How long will it take?

Two, three or four weeks I do believe.

Have you heard any of the East Timorese complaining
about the behaviour of the Australians?

Yes and I have been saying that if there are any
complaints it’s better that they be investigated.
Instead of resisting any investigation it’s better to
open an investigation.

But who are the people complaining?

Normal people. People from the displaced people camps
and outside. Many have been complaining and many have
been spreading rumours and that’s why I believe it’s
best to investigate.

And who should investigate?

The United Nations, Australia and the government of
Timor-Leste. But not all the complaints are genuine.
Some people are using the situation to create

But why do people want to spread rumours and keep the
discontent going?

Because people are not really happy with the
situation. They tried for a coup and now they will not
be happy until Fretilin disappears.

How do you explain that the two mutineers who escaped
from jail are still to be arrested?

This sense of impunity doesn’t help. I have made it
clear already to the government and to the Australian
forces that they must use their authority to bring
those people to justice.

Why is that not happening?

I still don’t understand if it’s technical or
political. Perhaps it’s a mixture.

But if political by whom?

There has been an attempt particularly by the
president, but also the prime minister, to settle the
crisis through dialogue and appeal to those people.
But you can’t really govern a country through dialogue
and appeal.

So what you are saying is that they refuse to make a
hard decision?

Yes. They have avoided the decision.

You have said the investigation by the three men
appointed by United Nations General Secretary Kofi
Annan was not satisfactory because they did not ask
how it happened. So what questions should they have
attempted to answer?

Firstly, why they ignored so many facts.

Such as?

Meetings at the president’s place with people who were
putting pressure on him to force me to step down.
Meetings between Ramos Horta and Reinado, Ramos Horta
and Railos; Ramos Horta and Tara and other petitioners
during the crisis. They promised everybody that they
would not restart the violence and then restarted it.
The allegations of weapons distribution. They (the
investigators) made a thorough investigation. Why in
their report do they consider it a minor problem?

What are these allegations of weapon distribution?

One of the allegations was that Fretilin had imported
illegally two or three containers of weapons and
distributed them to Fretilin members. But when they
investigated this issue they came to the conclusion
that there had been no illegal import of weapons for
distribution to the members. In the report they simply
ignore it. Why?

So when the now Prime Minister Ramos Horta met with
these men was it during the violence?

During the trouble.

So during the trouble he met with them?


And who were the people who tried to put pressure on
the president to have you resign?

At least one of the bishops.

And after all that you’re still prepared to work with
Gusmao and Horta?

Horta comes here to see me once a week. In the
interest of the nation and the government, I’m
prepared to work with them but we need to define
clearly a new framework .

You are not going to stand for prime minister at the
2007 election?

No. I think it’s much more important to work for the
party. To make it better organised.

You say that Fretilin’s support has grown. Why?

I’m sure of that. When you are in a democracy people –
even Fretilin members – think that because of the
democracy they can chose another party. But when they
realise that it also creates an opportunity for them
to be targeted by others, they realise it’s better to
support their own party. And don’t forget the link
between Fretilin and the people comes from the time of
the liberation movement and it’s still very strong.

So you think they will support Fretilin despite the
criticisms they might have of Fretilin?

Yes. The only way to defend real independence and the
sovereignty of the country is with Fretilin.

Has Indonesia played any role in what has happened?

As a government no. But maybe there are still some
people trying to do something but what we are seeing
in this country is ex-militias that are behind these
groups that are spreading violence in Dili and other

The decision to allow militia members back to East
Timor – was that a mistake?

The decision was not a mistake. The way it was done,
maybe. To have them back is right. But to put them
into institutions like the army and the police was a
mistake. They were immediately admitted by the United
Nations into the police because it was thought the
easiest way to build the police force was to use
people who had already been police for the Indonesians
because they had had some training. So they were the
very first admitted to the police and that was a

And now the vexed question of language. Many –
especially the Australians – scorn the use of
Portuguese. What is your answer to their criticism?

This is nonsense. It’s part of the whole culture of
our decision to strengthen our independence and
sovereignty. We know it’s not easy to make Portuguese
again the lingua franca of East Timor in a very short
time. But we do believe that Timor-Leste needs to be
different in this region. But it doesn’t mean that we
are against others. We need good relations with
Australia and Indonesia – all over. But as Timorese,
and not an extension of others.

But aren’t the young disappointed because they can’t
find jobs in the civil service without Portuguese?

It’s not true. Most of the people in the civil service
are now speaking some Portuguese. But they were
admitted to the job with no knowledge of Portuguese.
There is no discrimination.

Why has the violence not spread beyond Dili?

This is a good question. Most of the jobless people
are in Dili. It’s in Dili that you have the gangs.
Some organized through martial arts, others not. It’s
the country’s only big city. We have more or less
200,000 people in Dili – too many for a very small
city. That’s why it’s easy to spread trouble in Dili
and spread violence.

Should you have had a program to stop young people
coming to Dili?

This is one of our policies and plans. To create new
opportunities and jobs within the interior of the
country and create five or six small cities with a
quality of life better than in Dili. It can be done
and it needs to be done to stop people coming down to

So what should be the population of Dili in the
country’s population of about one million?

Not more than 50,000. Laughter.

Coming rains threaten Timorese refugee camps

Posted at 7:53pm on 07 Nov 2006

The approaching rainy season is expected to
create a new crisis for the people of East Timor,
with 25,000 Timorese sheltering in 52 refugee camps across Dili.

Many of the refugees are still afraid to go home,
six months after violence first exploded across
the capital, despite the presence of international troops and police.

Authorities say Dili, which is built in a water
catchment area, will flood when the rain starts.
At least 11 of the camps are expected to be
inundated, creating breeding grounds for
mosquito-borne diseases such as malaria or cholera.

Copyright © 2006 Radio New Zealand