DILI (AFP) – East Timor’s president Jose Ramos-Horta called for the
country to “forget bad things” and unite during a “Peace Concert” in
the capital Dili on Saturday.
He made his plea at the city’s National Stadium, where 2,000 people
had gathered for a “cultural and music programme promoting peace and
national unity”, according to a government statement. The crowd had
arrived there following a “Walk of Peace”.
“Let us forget bad things that happened in the past that divide and
hurt us and let us unite in peace and love so we can advance to a
better future,” President Ramos-Horta said in his Christmas message on stage.
During the event local bands and a group from Indonesia performed in
front of thousands of people wearing white t-shirts with the word
“Dame” — meaning Peace in the local language Tetum.
Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao separately told reporters his government
“promises in 2008 to overcome problems in this country and maintain
stability… this is important for the success of this country”.
In 2006, East Timor was rocked by clashes between security force
factions which quickly degenerated into street violence involving
gangs. The crisis prompted the deployment of thousands of
international peacekeepers to restore calm.
East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, was separated from Indonesia
following a 1999 independence vote marred by deadly violence
inflicted by the Indonesian military and its militia allies.