Taur-Matan Ruak, fired the soldiers, but only after the deserters refused to return to barracks after 3 months absence, during which time they were paid. Alkatiri and the Fretilin Government did support the decision to sack the soldiers, do not really think the government had any other option. But the deserters were then given the right to petition the decision, hence the name ‘the Petitioners’, they were also allowed to peacefully demonstrate for one week outside Parliament. It was also agreed they could have an independent enquiry. The Petitioners decided that these actions of goodwill were not enough and they and their supporters rampaged throughout Dili on the last day of the demonstration.
Don’t really think any Western country would have given them the three months grace to return to barracks, they would have been arrested as deserters immediately, not just sacked.
Another fact that seems to evade collective memory is that there was also a separate enquiry being held into whether some of the deserters were smuggling sandalwood. Major Reinado was one of the suspects.
Tyneside East Timor Solidarity.
East Timor Elections Show Progress Since 2006 Clashes, Ban Says
By Michael Heath
Sept. 5 (Bloomberg) — East Timor’s elections show the Southeast Asian nation is making progress after last year’s violence, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said.
The Timorese people “once again demonstrated their faith in democratic processes to move beyond internal divisions,” Ban said in a report to the Security Council, according to an extract on the UN’s Web site. He acknowledged the increased tensions since the appointment of a new government last month.
Violence erupted in East Timor in March last year when former prime minister Mari Alkatiri fired a third of the country’s armed forces for desertion, prompting clashes that killed 37 people. About 155,000 people, or 15 percent of the population, were forced from their homes and peacekeepers were deployed to restore order to the former Portuguese colony.
There was more violence last month after the Fretilin party was excluded from government for the first time since East Timor gained independence from Indonesia five years ago. The Aug. 6 appointment as prime minister of former President Xanana Gusmao, who assembled a three-party coalition with a parliamentary majority, triggered riots.
Fretilin, which won the most votes in the June 30 election and has dominated East Timorese politics, said Gusmao’s appointment was unconstitutional.
The latest upheavals “demonstrate that not all divisions have yet been overcome” in East Timor, Ban said. Gusmao’s government must address security, while tackling poverty, which is “one of the major causes of instability.”
While holding the rights to an estimated 8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and 300 million barrels of light oil, East Timor is one of the region’s poorest countries. It has a jobless rate of 50 percent and about 42 percent of the population lives below the poverty line.
The UN has been operating in East Timor since 1999, when the country voted for independence following a 24-year occupation by Indonesia. East Timor, which is about 500 kilometers (310 miles) north of Australia, became independent in May 2002.
To contact the reporter on this story: Michael Heath in Sydney at email@example.com .
Last Updated: September 4, 2007 23:57 EDT
Excerpt from http://www.un.org/News/briefings/docs//2007/db070904.doc.htm
4 September 2007
Spokesperson’s Noon Briefing
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York
DAILY PRESS BRIEFING BY THE OFFICE OF THE SPOKESPERSON FOR THE SECRETARY-GENERAL
SECRETARY-GENERAL NOTES IMPROVEMENTS IN TIMOR-LESTE
The Secretary-General’s report to the Security Council on the U.N. Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste is out on the racks today, with his recommendations to maintain the current mandate of the Mission as it stands, with the exception of the electoral support area.
The Secretary-General said the security situation in Timor-Leste improved overall during the reporting period but continues to be volatile and subject to sporadic violence, including the fighting on 6 August following the announcement of the new Government.
He added that despite the recent flare-up in tensions, the advances made by the country thus far are considerable, including strengthening dialogue and reconciliation, embracing electoral processes as the mechanism for political competition and the people’s increased respect for rule of law institutions.