Subject: TLGOV: 30 April 2006 Statement by José Ramos-Horta



30 April 2006

For immediate release

Statement by the Senior Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dr. José Ramos-Horta

Following a meeting today with President Xanana Gusmão; Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri; Senior Minister and Minister of State Administration, Dra. Ana Pessoa; Interior Minister, Rogério Lobato; Commander of the FDTL, General Taur Mata Ruak; and Police Commissioner, Commander Paulo Martins, I’m able to inform the following:

Orders have been issued for law and order enforcement activities to be exclusively the responsibility of PNTL (National Police of Timor-Leste). The FDTL will now be redeployed. The military police will continue to patrol the city, as it is normal, in coordination with the police.

Previous restrictions on entry and exit to and from Dili have been lifted as from 14.00h today, Sunday, April 30.

Police officers are now being deployed in the city and Dili is slowly returning to normal with petrol stations, shops and street vendors resuming their activities.

Late morning/early afternoon today, in Taci Tolu, there was an incident involving youths. Members of the defence forces intervened to separate the youths. These youths seemed to be willing to ask the members of the defence forces to mediate their quarrels. During the brawl between the youths a foreign citizen was slightly hurt. However we have not been able to confirm this.

Meanwhile, according to Police, there are now 76 elements linked to the hooliganism detained, as well as 10 ex-FDTL members. The Ombudsman (Provedor de Justiça) will have unrestricted access to all detainees. Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri will speak to the media today to restate the Government’s policy that the Commission of Investigation will go ahead and encourage the dismissed soldiers to return and cooperate.

A majority of the dismissed soldiers have returned to their areas of residence and actually were never part of the demonstration. At the height of the demonstration there were never more than 300 of them participating.

Throughout the demonstration the dismissed soldiers largely behaved properly. As it is now well known, the demonstration was hijacked by young hooligans and thugs linked to the notoriously disruptive gang Colimau Dua Ribuh that went on to provoke chaos and destruction at Palácio do Governo and in poor suburbs west of the capital Dili.

Therefore the Government will continue to show its willingness in engaging the dismissed soldiers in dialogue to go to the truth and root causes of their grievances.

Some 100 or more of the dismissed soldiers are willing to hand themselves over to police. The authorities are willing to receive them and upon hearing them they would be released so that they can be called to be interviewed by the Commission of Investigation.

The Government will look at ways to assist those who lost their property or in any other way were affected by the vandalism.

The Taibessi popular market will be completely rebuilt and refurbished with better sanitary conditions.

I thank the foreign embassies and other diplomatic missions, including the UN and its agencies, based in Dili for their exceptional serenity and calm during the incidents. I am pleased that even though our police failed to provide them with appropriate protection, none of the embassies, foreign agencies, UN, expatriates and foreign businesses were harmed.

Some embassies were very generous in receiving some of the panicked East Timorese and providing them with shelter and comfort.

Most foreign residents of Timor-Leste also displayed commendable serenity and went on with their activities. I personally saw some strolling in the streets even during the worse moments of tension.

I’m thankful for the words of encouragement and support I heard from the Foreign Minister of Portugual and other foreign leaders.

This most recent crisis must be seen in perspective as just another episode in the slow and painful process of nation building.

Countries in our region, like Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia, experienced similar if not greater and painful conflicts as they emerged from colonial rule 50 to 60 years ago. Some have not resolved the political, social, ethnic and sectarian tension five decades after their independence.

Timor-Leste can be proud of its achievements so far and each hic-up or crisis should encourage the leaders to show more determination, pro-active leacership and vision, more humility and compassion in embracing every element of society.

In due course some reflection and analysis will be made with absolute honesty and humility so as to enable us to ask ourselves whether these situations could not have been prevented with early and timely action and appropriate policies.

We must ask ourselves whether often we allow problems to linger and fester rather than promptly and resolutely address them.

I’m planning to leave the country tomorrow, Monday, May 1, en route to New York to address the UN Security Council which will hold a meeting on Timor-Leste on May 5 to deliberate on the future of the UN presence in Timor-Leste after May 20.

I will have a two-day stopover in Sydney to publicise the August Tour de Timor-Leste, a multi-staged 450 km bycicle race open to Timorese and international competitors. Trials to select the eight-person teams from each of the 13 districts of Timor-Leste have began with great popular participation. It is interesting to note that the district trials were going on in spite of the incidents in Dili.

PS: Timor Telecom, throughout the incidents in Dili, proved once again to be an abysmal failure. The Government is learning at its own cost that monopolies are not helpful and are not in the interests of the country.” ­ ENDS

For further information please contact: Chris Santos Assessor de Imprensa/Media Advisor Cabinet Office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Tel: +670 729 7099

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