Subject: JRH is new East Timor PM
Jose Ramos-Horta to be East Timor prime minister
Sat Jul 8, 2006 4:41am ET 167
DILI (Reuters) - Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos-Horta is to be East Timor's new prime minister, President Xanana Gusmao told reporters on Saturday. "I have met with the Fretilin party ... Jose Ramos-Horta is to be prime minister, first deputy prime minister is Estanislau da Silva and the second deputy is Rui Araujo," he said after a meeting with leaders of the country's dominant political party.
Ramos-Horta had been a spokesman abroad for East Timor in its struggle to gain independence from Indonesian occupation and then its foreign minister when it won nationhood.
He was acting as temporary coordinating minister since Mari Alkatiri stepped down as prime minister on June 26.
Rui Araujo has been health minister, while da Silva was agriculture minister and is a senior Fretilin parliament member. Fretilin has 55 seats in the 88-member parliament.
Alkatiri was broadly blamed for violence which erupted after he sacked nearly 600 members of the 1,400-strong army when they protested against discrimination.
The tiny Pacific country, which broke free from Indonesian occupation in 1999 and became fully independent in 2002, was thrown into chaos when protests over the sackings spiralled into violence and looting that peaked in May.
At least 20 people died and 100,000 were displaced in the violence, which continued sporadically even after the arrival of Australian-led peacekeeper.
East Timor Names Nobel Laureate as PM
By JIM GOMEZ The Associated Press
Saturday, July 8, 2006; 5:21 AM
DILI, East Timor -- Nobel peace laureate Jose Ramos-Horta became East Timor's new prime minister Saturday, shouldering the challenge of returning the young nation to stability after months of violence and political turmoil.
President Xanana Gusmao announced the formation of a new government, filling a void created when former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri resigned last month amid allegations he formed a hit squad to kill his political opponents.
Many in East Timor blame Alkatiri's dismissal of 600 soldiers _ nearly half the country's armed forces _ for May street battles that erupted in the capital between police and army units and later spilled into gang warfare, looting and arson.
At least 30 people were killed and 150,000 others forced from their homes.
"Today I officially announce the new government of East Timor," Gusmao told reporters after emergency talks with Alkatiri's ruling Fretilin party. "The prime minister is Dr. Jose Ramos-Horta."
He said he hoped the move would help "bring about the process of healing and bring peace and stability to the people of East Timor." The first and most important task, he said, was getting tens of thousands of people out of refugee camps and into their homes.
The recent violence, which eased with the arrival of 2,700 foreign peacekeepers six weeks ago, was the worst to hit the county since its 1999 vote for independence after 24 years of Indonesian rule.
Analysts said efforts to usher in political stability ahead of next year's elections hinged on finding a prime minister who was acceptable to both Gusmao and Fretilin, two sides that are often at odds.
The party provided Gusmao with a list of four candidates _ among them Ramos-Horta, who won the 1996 Nobel peace prize for championing the cause of East Timor's resistance struggle during nearly two decades in exile.
His greatest challenge will be to quickly address splits in the security forces, fully investigate killings, and forge political support within Fretilin, which has seen internal divisions harden in the recent turmoil.
Many members are opposed to Ramos-Horta, 56, who is a close political ally of the president. He was foreign minister in the previous government.
Alkatiri, meanwhile, was told he would have to answer to questions that he knew weapons were being funneled to civilian militias during the unrest to terrorize his opponents.
Prosecutor-General Longuinhos Monteiro said Alkatiri had been summoned for questioning "as a suspect in the case," though he did not elaborate.
Officials from the prosecutor's office were not available to confirm the report, and Alkatiri's spokesman could not be reached for comment.
Saturday, July 8, 2006
Horta faces unrest as new leader
by Stephen Fitzpatrick, Dili
JOSE Ramos Horta is expected to be named as head of an interim East Timor government this morning in a move that will help soothe some of the nation's recent wounds, but there are already threats of new unrest over the decision.
Almost two weeks after the resignation of prime minister Mari Alkatiri, a delegation from Dr Alkatiri's ruling Fretilin party met President Xanana Gusmao yesterday to put its seal of approval on the appointment of Mr Ramos Horta.
Mr Ramos Horta, former foreign and defence minister, was a founder of the party but resigned 15 years ago in a move to foster a more broad-based independence movement.
He has been widely seen as a compromise candidate acceptable to all sides and able to lead the government through to elections by mid next year.
However, opposition groups from the country's west said yesterday they believed they had received assurances from the President he would not appoint Mr Ramos Horta, whom they described as "duplicitous".
Germenino Amaral, one of the organisers of the thousands-strong demonstrations in Dili recently that culminated in Dr Alkatiri's resignation, said their opposition to Mr Ramos Horta was emphatic.
"He says one thing in one place, and another elsewhere," Mr Amaral said. "He tries to be all things. We are extremely dissatisfied with him as leader."
Mr Amaral said former governor Mario Carrascalao, who was broadly pro-Indonesian during the Jakarta occupation years of 1975 to 1999 but whose period in office is seen as having been relatively benign, would be a more appropriate choice. Mr Carrascalao has indicated he would be prepared to do the job, but publicly says he is keen not to be seen as being a usurper of legitimate government.
Mr Amaral also said yesterday his group's main aim was the dissolution of parliament, something Mr Gusmao has left himself the option of doing but which few people expect will happen.
Mr Amaral criticised Mr Ramos Horta yesterday for being part of the group of East Timorese leaders who spent the occupation years out of the country. Mr Alkatiri also belongs to that group.
There is an increasingly sharp divide in East Timor between those who perceive themselves as having laid their lives on the line for independence, and those they view as having returned to the country only when the nation's battle was won.
The divide manifested itself most sharply in the deadly battles of recent months between ethnic Loromonu, or westerners, and Lorosae, or easterners, a division that most East Timorese say barely existed when there was a common enemy in the form of the occupying Indonesian military.
Mr Gusmao, who is affiliated with the Lorosae, led the military resistance to Indonesian rule for many years and was jailed after his capture in Dili in 1992.
The power struggle that led to the collapse of Dr Alkatiri's government was widely seen as one between Mr Gusmao and Dr Alkatiri, who spent the occupation years leading Fretilin's political resistance from Mozambique.
Trouble erupted in Dili again yesterday with the torching of a restaurant even as the Fretilin delegation met Mr Gusmao - an indication of violence that could follow if the President makes what some perceive as being the wrong choice in Mr Ramos Horta.
"Whether that flares up again I think depends very much on who is appointed prime minister," said Brigadier Mick Slater, the Australian commander of the joint taskforce providing security in East Timor, yesterday.