Subject: Aust warned to stay out of E Timor politics, PM indicates 2nd E Timor visit


Aust warned to stay out of E Timor politics

Posted 9 hours 1 minute ago

Former adviser to the Catholic Church in East Timor, Professor Frank Brennan, says the Australian Government must avoid becoming involved in factional politics if it is to succeed in its military mission there.

Professor Brennan is a former director of the Jesuit Refugee Service in East Timor and last visited in December.

He told ABC Radio National's Saturday Extra program that he detected some anti-Australian sentiment at the time, after reports that Australian soldiers showed disrespect to the flag of the Fretilin party.

Professor Brennan says he does not believe the allegations, but urged the Australian Government to maintain a neutral stance.

"When you're dealing with people where there's an east-west divide [and] you're dealing with a situation where a major political party did have the ascendancy but is now out in the cold, in a very underdeveloped democracy, where the institutions of the state are insecure then the prospect, there will be allegations that particular factions are too close to Australia," he said.


Saturday February 16, 09:29 AM

PM indicates 2nd E Timor visit

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd has hinted at another trip to East Timor once President Jose Ramos-Horta is back on his feet.

Mr Rudd visited Mr Ramos-Horta in hospital yesterday as he passed through Darwin on his way home from Dili.

He says he was saddened to see a democratically elected leader gunned down as the President was last Monday outside his home in Dili.

Mr Rudd says the President is a fighter and he hopes to visit East Timor again once Mr Ramos-Horta is up to it.

Meanwhile, has commended East Timor on its management of the latest crisis since the assassination attempt on both Mr Ramos-Horta and Prime Minister Xanama Gusamo.

Mr Rudd says he is pleased with East Timor's handling of the crisis.

"What I'm impressed by, is that in the several days so far, how the institutions of state have worked well given the enormous duress which has existed as a result of these assassination attempts," he said.

"It's still early days and what we know from the past with East Timorese politics is that things can rapidly become volatile."

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