Good afternoon Dr. Alkatiri, thank you for agreeing to meet with me. First can I say how sorry I was that you were forced into resignation.
Q. I wonder do you think the constitution has been damaged irreparably by the forced resignation?
A. I have no doubt that it was not constitutional, fully aware that all accusations against me were false, to force the government to step down to force a government of national unity, I felt it was better to resign. I felt that we would experience bloodshed. I thought it would have a deeper crisis. I could not govern if there was bloodshed, if many people were killed.
It was a very bad precedent.
It now depends on the leadership to recognise their mistakes, including me. I was the biggest victim of the situation. It was a cue for no reason.
It is now a crisis of civil leadership, of state authority.
Q. I guess you are saying that you thought there could be a civil war?
A. Yes – I resigned to avoid a vacuum.
The criminal actions around the city now are not political. Now they are taking the time to spread crime. The same happened in 2000 and 2001, and again in 2002 and 2003, but we managed to control the situation.
The international force don’t know the people they don’t know who they are, where they are from.
Q. Do you think the international force have stabilised the situation at all?
A. They are not making a big difference, you might feel safer if the force is present, but they don’t know the people, in thinking we are all equal but in reality not quite.
Q. I have read the UN report, to me it seems a rather inaccurate history of events and does not go into a analysis of the politics behind the crisis. On the factual side it does not mention that the petitioners and their supporters rampaged all over Dili on the 28th April, 2006, it says they went to Tasi Tolo and Comoro. I know they went elsewhere I was living in Cai Coli, my adopted sons house was attacked and we ran from machete wielding thugs. Nor does the report mention that 2,000 people from all over Dili, including myself, took shelter in the F-FDTL PM camp in Cai Coli for several days. Do you agree the report falls short of a political and factual analysis?
A. They say it is not a UN report but an Independent Report. This means something, they defend the name. It is incomplete at least, not impartial. A lot of facts were ignored facts that were relevant to the whole crisis, made their own assessment of the facts ignoring the reality.
I was expecting a much better report. It is not objective.
It gives a background of the time during the resistance, ignores effects and situation, a lot of facts were ignored.
They talked of meetings in my place. No mention of meetings that Xanana and Ramos-Horta had with Railos and Alfredo . Why did they ignore meetings that took place in Xanana’s home?
As a government we consider the recommendations are impotent. Legal action recommended against F-FDTL, no legal action recommended against the police. No evidence against myself.
It is a political move to keep me in limbo. The whole process is political, they try to use justice for political purposes.
Yes, you are right the petitioners rampaged all over Diil on the 28th April, they did not just run to Tasi Tolo. They burnt many homes in Taibessi, as you say attacked Cai Coli, and many other places.
Q. The report only says Xanana ‘was divisive’ when he re-defined Loro Sae/Loro Monu. Do you think this re-definition contributed rather more to the crisis than the report implies?
A. This in reality was the main problem. What is his responsibility.
I want my name cleared, people are aware that there is no evidence, but we need a decision.
Q. I have been told that during the occupation the name Timor Leste was Timor Loro Sae, is that true?
A. The name of this country was Timor Leste before 1980. It was changed to Timor Loro Sae in 1980 till 1999. The name was changed to please the technocrats. I argued against the change, Loro Sae means ‘rising sun’, the name of the country since 1975 was Timor Leste till 1980. The name change was the choice of CNRT – The Timorese Council, Xanana changed the name to suit the technocrats.
Q. I have read the Fretilin analysis of the Independent Report. It hints at various bodies and people being instrumental in the crisis but stops short of giving names. Is this because the situation could be made worse if people and organisations were named?
Yes, not to give names in case it made the situation worse. Our purpose is to restore stability not create new problems, that is why we avoid the names.
Q. The Fretilin analysis also speaks of counter intelligence. Can you explain more on this?
A. There was a lot of foreign interference, trying to push the people into action against the government. We had to expel Julian King from the country because of his frequent interference against the government. F-FDTL and the police were also approached.
Q. Timorese friends and myself are interested to know whether militant Fretilin have formed any campaign plans for the election in May 2007.
A. Yes, a National Commission dealing with different issues, marketing information for part of the national campaign. We have started work in the districts at suco level. We have started again work in western parts of the country, in Ermera, Aileu, and even Oecusse.
I believe that this crisis instead of damaging Fretilin’s popularity has done the opposite, we are getting more and more support from the people.
Q. Do you think the election will definitely take place in 2007?
A. Yes, the election will take place in 2007. It must take place.
Q. It is not just gang fighting that is going on now, as you said before some are taking this chance to increase crime. Some areas of Dili are practically no go areas, for example the far end of the beach road near the American Embassy. Women are being sexually harassed and mugging is on the increase. Do you think human rights and what constitutes a crime should be taught to the young?
A. We must deal better with organising the village authority and to have police around. Have police again in the Bairos. The Communities must be strengthened.
Q. Why was Ramos-Horta, an independent, selected to be caretaker Prime Minister?
A. Ramos- Horta was the only choice that would appease Xanana. Maybe it is a good way for the people to know Ramos-Horta. Perhaps he is best at lobbying the public and internationals. He was a co-founder of the Fretilin Party but left in 1981 or 1982, I think 1982, when Xanana decided to destabilise the party and establish a Marxist/Leninist movement.
Q. Do you thing there is a split in the Fretilin Party, I have heard a ‘Fretilin Modern Party’ is being formed.
A. There is no ‘Fretilin Modern Party’. Small groups looking for positions, Vitor da Costa and Jose Gutteres are always looking for positions they don’t get. They are now approaching the leadership for dialogue,
What some people are looking for is a weak leadership in Fretilin, starting with the Prime Minister. I am left, I am not even left centre, but although I am left I tried to create a strong economy.
There are some problems because many, including some NGO’s do not know what is the meaning of Civil Society.
Q. I have heard that you would not like to take up the position of Prime Minister again?
A. Yes, that is correct.
Q. Lastly can I ask what your personal plans are?
A. I will work almost full time for the party. I will continue to be Secretary General until 2011. Perhaps I will return to the University and lecture again, maybe on election law. I will write some book on experiences of 4 years governing this country. I think I have learned.
I am not moved to be Prime Minister, but will keep assisting the government where I can.
Thank you very much you for your time.
No, thank you for coming.
For those wishing to know more of Mari Alkatiri’s politics and the forming of Fretilin good background information is given in:
Dr Helen Hill’s article ‘Why do Australian’s want Marie Alkatiri out of the Prime Minister-ship of East Timor?’
and Prime Minister and Cabinet, Timor-Leste Government.
Both can be found by simply typing Mari Alkatiri into the search engine,
A good analysis of the ‘UN’ Independent report has been done by Peter Murphy – it can be found on TETS web site or on the ETAN site..
In the four months that Jose Ramos-Horta has been caretaker Prime Minister he has been out of Timor Leste eight times.
See Tyneside East Timor Solidarity website at: tets.sdf-eu.org