Subject: "Conflict and the Election": STL 13 February 2007

Hi All,

See below, a somewhat "rushed" translation of an editorial from Suara Timor Lorosae, 13 February 2007.

Regards, Ernie Chamberlain

Suara Timor Lorosae, Dili, 13 February 2007

Husi Ami Editorial (original in Bahasa Indonesia)

“Conflict and the Election.

We are at the threshold of our festival of democracy. The political and military crisis that this country has endured since March last year has almost ended.

Strange, but true. Thousands of people were allowed to become refugees in their own land. Now, they live under tents provided as emergency aid by international humanitarian bodies. The Government and Second Constitutional Cabinet ((sic)) led by Jose Ramos Horta is seen as unsuccessful in overcoming the crises in this country.

These days, we are faced with the situation where feelings of peace and security are more than we can hope for. Instead, we’re left to count the days and months before the several phases of the election process begin ­ such as the campaign and the stage of getting to know the Presidential candidates for the 2007-2012 period. Our question is, does the Government of Jose Ramos Horta have the capability to end the political and military crisis ­ as well as the conflict between martial arts groups, before the Presidential and Parliamentary elections ?

Clearly, the recent conflict between the martial arts groups is difficult to resolve because that conflict is driven by the big people - whose objective is to frighten the people so that they don’t get the opportunity to make their choice of President. In situations such as this, it easy for some to impose their will on the common people. And, that’s the way that political organizations who use such methods will win the Presidential election.

There are also other ways ­ ie raising the prices of the nine basic commodities such as rice whose cost nowadays is choking the little people who are longer able to buy it. Conditions such as these are created by certain people so that they can force their will on the people and entice them with money. It’s certain that in conditions where the people are so powerless, they are unable to resist financial enticements if offered ­ with the precondition that they must do the will of others.

When there are indeed political parties or certain organizations employing methods such as these, they make fools of the people and diminish democratic values. Let the people determine their choice without being pressured by financial enticements or other material inducements. We hope that all political parties play out the political game with honesty and fairness ­ and reach a successful result that that is truly clean.

We have to be aware that while our nation is populated by some 950,000 souls, that number declines day-by-day due to the deaths in these outbreaks of violence. The question for us is: why doesn’t our Government have the capability to lead a population of less than a million people ? If we are unable to manage such a small population ­ how will it be in five or ten more years time when the population has significantly increased ? Here’s hoping !”

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