Subject: ETimor vote, fishing contest prove stability: president

ETimor vote, fishing contest prove stability: president

(AFP) ­ 21 hours ago

DILI ­ Trouble-free local elections and an impending international sports fishing competition are proof of the stability of post-independence East Timor, President Jose Ramos-Horta said Thursday.

The Nobel Prize laureate talked up the "progress" that the tiny half-island nation was making as he promoted its latest foray into international sport, the November 27-29 International Sports Fishing Competition of Timor-Leste.

Ramos-Horta said he hoped the contest -- taking place off the coast of Atauro island north of the capital Dili -- would lure holidaymakers and promote East Timor as a safe place for travellers.

"I have to tell you, modestly speaking, having seen fishing competitions around the world, this one can rival any of the most interesting fishing competitions anywhere," he told a press conference to unveil the competition, which is hoping to attract anglers from around the region.

Hot on the heels of the Tour de Timor cycling race in August and village-level elections which passed smoothly last week, Ramos-Horta said the fishing event was yet another step forward by the fledgling country.

"The overwhelming majority of the people, 99.9 percent, don't want any more problems," he said. "The youth are very, very calm and they realise that much is at stake."

East Timor achieved independence from Indonesia in 2002 after a referendum marred by bloodshed and rights abuses at the hands of Indonesian forces and their militia proxies.

But the country has not left its violent history completely behind, with clashes between security forces and gangs in 2006, fighting around the 2007 general election and the attempted assassination of Ramos-Horta last year.

Ramos-Horta cited "tremendous progress" in police and military reforms as well as the nationwide village elections as proof of the "people's maturity".

Yet while there is calm on the surface, concerns remain about what is bubbling underneath.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Monday warned that the root causes of tension that led to violence in 2006 still have yet to be dealt with.

In a report on the UN mission in East Timor, he said "tensions in some communities remain and could lead to future local-level conflicts".

The latest test of political stability came Monday when parliament rejected a no-confidence motion tabled by opposition lawmakers against the government of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.

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