Saturday, March 31, 2007

East Timor in the Weekly Worker


A revised version of my recent article on the occupation of East Timor has appeared in Britain's Weekly Worker newspaper. The article earlier appeared as a feature on Aotearoa indymedia, and on Australia's Labor Tribune website.

A report filed from Dili a couple of days ago has the resurgent Mari Alkatiri turning up the heat on the Gusmao-Horta faction running East Timor's government. According to Alkatiri, Gusmao's new breakaway party from Fretilin is a 'nest of liars'. Interestingly, Alkatiri's remarks were made during a visit to a camp for internally displaced people. Is Alkatiri trying to capitalise on the confrontation that has erupted between these people and the government, which has used Anzac troops to try to force them out of their camps?

Alkatiri's perfectly justified remarks have provoked a warning from the head of East Timor's National Electoral Commission, which recently got all the contestants in the upcoming Presidential elections to sign a sort of code of conduct:

Speaking to Adnkronos International (AKI) on the heated political climate, Martinho Gusmao, spokesperson of the National Election Commission (NEC) regretted Alkatiri’s latest remark.

"Those leaders who like to insult others during their campaign, show that they have no intellectual quality or capability of leadership," he told AKI.

He added that NEC will pay attention to what is going on and will verify if candidates and representatives who insult each other are violating the code of conduct that was recently signed.


This sounds rather sinister to me. The Australian government is determined to keep Alkatiri's party Fretilin from winning the election, and Alkatiri has already accused Anzac forces of undermining his campaign. Could the code of conduct become an excuse for further attempts to thwart Alkatiri and keep the Gusmao-Horta faction of the East Timorese elite in power?

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