Subject: ABC: Ramos Horta's long history with East Timor

ABC: Ramos Horta's long history with East Timor


This is a transcript from PM. The program is broadcast around Australia at 5:10pm on Radio National and 6:10pm on ABC Local Radio

PM - Monday, 11 February , 2008 18:26:00

Reporter: Brigid Glanville

MARK COLVIN: Jose Ramos Horta is known to take an early morning walk outside the Presidential residence with his bodyguard most days.

That habit may have made him more vulnerable to such an attack as the one mounted this morning.

Brigid Glanville looks at the quietly spoken Nobel Laureate who the rebels decided to try to eliminate from East Timor's political scene.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: For the last few years, as prime minister and now President, Jose Ramos Horta has played the role of national and international statesman.

But most of his long career was spent in relative obscurity, working for more than two decades at the apparently impossible task of getting the world to accept East Timor's need for independence from Indonesian occupation.

From the Indonesian invasion in 1975 and onwards, he knocked on doors in the UN and the world's capitals, lobbying for East Timor's freedom.

But after independence he led the fledgling state's first government, then swapped roles with the then president Xanana Gusmao.

Jose Ramos-Horta spoke to Sunday profile on ABC local radio in May last year, just after he was sworn in as President

JOSE RAMOS HORTA: There are a number of critical priorities. There is not a single priority, there are half a dozen priorities, namely the reorganisation of our police force, which has been in a mess for years and which is one of the reason for the crisis, in the conflict in the police force through political lines, ethnic lines, mismanagement by previous government, the previous minister of interior.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: East Timor has been struggling to maintain democracy after plunging into chaos in 2006, when the army tore apart on regional lines.

The fighting and violence killed 37 people and drove more than 150,000 people away from their homes.

Soldiers claiming discrimination broke away from the East Timor Army, led by Major Alfredo Reinado.

Reinado who is behind today's attack, has been hiding in the hills behind Dili with his forces since then.

In May 2006, just after Reinado led a revolt against the government, he told PM's Michael Vincent he was loyal to Jose Ramos Horta and Xanana Gusmao.

MICHAEL VINCENT: According to the government, the people you are fighting are the legitimate army and the legitimate police.

ALFREDO REINADO: I am not taking orders from the government and the president is not ruling the government. It's the supreme commander and the President. I take orders from the President. I have nothing to do with the government because the government's failure to rule and the government mostly they are leading by the communist leadership.

BRIGID GLANVILLE: But today's attack is an indication that, in the end, Major Reinado had ceased to take orders from anyone.

If reports are correct that his men attacked both the President and the Prime Minister this morning, then this will go down as a bloody, but failed, attempted military coup.

MARK COLVIN: Brigid Glanville.

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