terça-feira, fevereiro 10, 2009

East Timor on knife-edge, say analysts

Nelson da Cruz
February 10, 2009 - 5:34PM

A year after rebel attacks left East Timor's president fighting for his life, the nation is on a "knife-edge" amid threats to stability from grinding poverty and a culture of impunity, analysts say.

President Jose Ramos-Horta was shot and wounded in a clash with renegade soldiers at his home outside the capital, Dili, on February 11 last year, in an incident that claimed the life of rebel leader Alfredo Reinado.

The shooting - followed just an hour later by a failed attack on the convoy of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao - prompted fears of a return to chaos in the country just two years after fighting among police, soldiers and street gangs left at least 37 dead.

But instead of triggering fresh violence, the death of the charismatic Reinado helped bring an end to a rebellion of 600 disgruntled soldiers which he had led, analysts say.

The problem now is to stop that hard-won stability from slipping away.

"One shouldn't speak ill of the dead, but Reinado's death removed a major impediment to peace," George Quinn, an East Timor expert and fellow at the Australian National University told AFP.

With Reinado gone, East Timor's government succeeded in convincing the remaining rebels to abandon their refuge in the country's hills and surrender.

But the government has been criticised from both inside and outside the country for apparent delays in trying Reinado's men, including his surviving second-in-command Gastao Salsinha.

And analysts have said that even amid the government's success in ending Reinado's rebellion may lie the seeds of future instability.

This is because of Ramos-Horta's apparent willingness to pardon members of Reinado's rebel outfit, which they say shows a culture of impunity.

"I met Mr Salsinha and some of his friends and I don't want them to be held responsible for the crisis that occurred because they weren't the leaders," Ramos-Horta told reporters last week, indicating he would pardon them if they were convicted.

"I can't give a pardon before the legal process is done. After the legal process I can give a pardon, but before that I can't do anything," Ramos-Horta said.

The International Crisis Group (ICG), an organisation that works to prevent conflict, argued in a report this week that while the Nobel Laureate's forgiving approach may secure peace in the short term, it could undermine the rule of law in months and years to come.

"Ramos-Horta's interventions in the process of justice are intended to promote national reconciliation, but could well have the opposite effect." the ICG said.

"They send a signal that those involved in political violence - especially the political elite and the army - will not be held to account."

Another challenge is that East Timorese people are trapped in a cycle of extreme poverty and face widespread unemployment, Quinn said.

A dysfunctional education system and the world's highest birthrate have fed the growth of gangs of unemployed youths in Dili.

Deep divisions between Timorese from the east and west of the country - which triggered the 2006 crisis - still bubble under the surface, including in the police and military.

The ongoing problems mean the country remains dependent on thousands of UN police and foreign soldiers nearly seven years after gaining formal independence from Indonesia, after a bloody 24-occupation by its neighbour that led to the deaths of up to 200,000 people.

"The risks of a recurrence of violence and stagnation are very real... my impression is that East Timor is on a knife-edge at the moment. It could go either way," Quinn said.

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Todas as traduções de inglês para português (e também de francês para português) são feitas pela Margarida, que conhecemos recentemente, mas que desde sempre nos ajuda.

Obrigado pela solidariedade, Margarida!

Mensagem inicial - 16 de Maio de 2006

"Apesar de frágil, Timor-Leste é uma jovem democracia em que acreditamos. É o país que escolhemos para viver e trabalhar. Desde dia 28 de Abril muito se tem dito sobre a situação em Timor-Leste. Boatos, rumores, alertas, declarações de países estrangeiros, inocentes ou não, têm servido para transmitir um clima de conflito e insegurança que não corresponde ao que vivemos. Vamos tentar transmitir o que se passa aqui. Não o que ouvimos dizer... "

Malai Azul. Lives in East Timor/Dili, speaks Portuguese and English.
This is my blogchalk: Timor, Timor-Leste, East Timor, Dili, Portuguese, English, Malai Azul, politica, situação, Xanana, Ramos-Horta, Alkatiri, Conflito, Crise, ISF, GNR, UNPOL, UNMIT, ONU, UN.