Subject: Crikey: E Timor findings show institutional and individual failure


18 October 2006

East Timor findings show institutional and individual failure

Damien Kingsbury, Director, Masters of International and Community Development School of International and Political Studies Deakin University, writes:

The findings of the UN report on the recent violence in East Timor has surprised few, but it may help to settle allegations that have been flying about since Mari Alkatiri resigned as prime minister.

While a number of individuals are named by the report as having responsibility for the violence, what comes through most clearly is institutional failure and poor decision making.

The report found that President Xanana Gusmao made provocative statements during the crisis and should not have directly communicated with rebel troops. But there was no evidence to support claims that he was directly implicated in the events. The report found that rebel leader Major Alfredo Reinado and his men did, however, commit criminal acts.

The UN report also found that then Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri did not directly distribute weapons illegally to civilians, but had knowledge of the distribution and failed to act on it.

The report also found that Alkatiri in particular bore responsibility for calling out troops to confront protesters on 28 April, which led to the fatal shooting of five protesters and the wounding of many others. However, the report also found that claims of 60 more being killed on the outskirts of Dili were unfounded.

Senior figures were directly implicated in the distribution of weapons. Police commander General Paulo Martins both illegally distributed weapons within the police, while sacked Interior Minister Rogerio Lobato, Defense Minister Roque Rodrigues and Defence Force chief Taur Matan Ruak also illegally armed civilians.

A number of charges against these individuals have been recommended by the report. The report provides further impetus to a recent International Crisis Group report that recommended that Gusmao and Alkatiri retire from politics and allow a new, untainted and hopefully more competent generation of political leaders to come through.




October 19, 2006 Michael Jones writes: "East Timor findings show institutional and individual failure" (yesterday, item 13). I am not as sure as Damien Kingsbury that the UN report will settle very many of the allegations flying about concerning this year's turmoil in East Timor. While it appears to have done a very thorough analysis of the particular incidents it was mandated to enquire into, which were mostly instances of mayhem between East Timor's confusing array of military and police units, it was not given the task of investigating the gang violence that still has a large proportion of the population of Dili too scared to go home from relocation camps. It does suggest though that the East-West tension was a minor irritant that had been whipped up by unnamed elements. A quick look at the pro- and anti-Fretilin blogs shows that there are still plenty of allegations flying, perhaps more than before.

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