Subject: ABC: Australian returns to aid East Timor Government

Also ABC: Australian returns to aid East Timor Government

ABC PM - East Timor's new PM faces law and order challenge

PM - Monday, 10 July, 2006 18:30:00

Reporter: Sarah Hawke

MARK COLVIN: East Timor's new Prime Minister says restoring law and order is a key challenge for the country. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate and former Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta was sworn in as Prime Minister this morning in Dili. He faces the immense task of encouraging thousands of people who fled the recent violence in Dili to return home. His predecessor was forced from office over allegations about his role in sparking the violence, but Mr Ramos Horta says he'll rely on Mari Alkatiri's "good counsel". Sarah Hawke reports.

SARAH HAWKE: Fifty-six-year-old Jose Ramos Horta was sworn in during a low-key ceremony at the presidential offices this morning. (Sound of Jose Ramos Horta being sworn in) Diplomats and politicians looked on as he took the oath of office, although the chair allocated for the former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, was vacant. In his swearing in speech, Mr Ramos Horta said his government's immediate task was to consolidate security, saying this was necessary so the thousands of people who fled the recent violence could return to their homes. He said while Dr Alkatiri's government had made progress in many areas like health and schooling, it had failed on internal security. Speaking to journalists after the ceremony, he says his priority was to continue confiscating weapons from rebels who'd played a party in the unrest that left about 30 people dead. JOSE RAMOS HORTA: We are continuing efforts elsewhere in the country to identify, to search, engage in dialogue so the people return it voluntarily.

SARAH HAWKE: Mr Ramos Horta says foreign troops will be crucial in helping maintain stability. He's also flagging his intention ahead of next year's election to simplify the bureaucracy, which he says is holding up economic development. Estanislau da Silva is one of Mr Ramos Horta's two Deputy Prime Ministers. He's also been a keen ally of Dr Alkatiri and a Fretilin Party colleague. He says it will be a tough road ahead for the new leadership team.

ESTANISLAU DA SILVA: And I look forward to working with him in the next 10 months or so, under very difficult conditions. And our main aim is to... just peace and stability, to restore it.

SARAH HAWKE: You of course have been a key ally of Dr Mari Alkatiri over the years and also within the Fretilin Party itself. How strong is your support for Ramos Horta? ESTANISLAU DA SILVA: I'm close to Mari. We are friends. But I'm... (inaudible)... first of all I'm a Fretilin member and I'm a Timorese and I'm here to serve the country as a whole.

SARAH HAWKE: Therefore your support is fairly strong for Mr Ramos Horta?

ESTANISLAU DA SILVA: My support is to my... I'm here to work for the people of East Timor. I don't support any particular person. I work on a professional base and that's what I want to do.

SARAH HAWKE: I noticed in the vision from the swearing in ceremony, Dr Alkatiri wasn't there. Do you know why he wasn't there? ESTANISLAU DA SILVA: Of course you've got to understand he has recently been dismissed so he wouldn't go anyway because his dismissal took place in very special circumstances so, the wounds, all the problems have not been healed properly.

SARAH HAWKE: One of the key tasks that you and the new Prime Minister face is overcoming the friction within the Defence Force and between the military and the police. How do you see the Government will try and I guess overcome the internal security problem?

ESTANISLAU DA SILVA: It's not going to be an easy task but we have been working very hard and I believe Jose Ramos Horta gets along very well with the armed forces and that we also, I also know some of the commanders of Falantil, FDTL, and then of course we know as well people who are in the police and I know very well the Minister of the Interior so we are going to work together.

MARK COLVIN: East Timor's Deputy Prime Minister Estanislau da Silva speaking to Sarah Hawke (ABC)


ABC Online

The World Today - Australian returns to aid East Timor Government

[This is the print version of story]

The World Today - Tuesday, 11 July , 2006 12:36:00

Reporter: Tonia Liosatos

ELEANOR HALL: A former Australian consul to East Timor is back in Dili to help advise the new government as it emerges from the past months of chaos.

Former Australian consul Jim Dunn has answered a call from President Xanana Gusmao and the newly sworn in Prime Minister, Jose Ramos-Horta.

He joined them at yesterday's swearing in ceremony, as Tonia Liosatos reports.

TONIA LIOSATOS: A former consul to East Timor, Jim Dunn, who attended the swearing in of new Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta in Dili yesterday, has given words of comfort and encouragement to the new Prime Minister.

Jim Dunn, a confidante of Jose Ramos-Horta, has been in East Timor to advise the new administration in the wake of the instability and horrific violence in the country which led to the resignation of former prime minister Mari Alkatiri

Jim Dunn has told the ABC's Tim Holt he's advising on security concerns.

JIM DUNN: It's certainly made a big change, and I must say in the past week I've spent a lot of time with Jose. I've been staying in his house, we've been over every issue again and again, and I presented a paper to him on, at his request, on where to go from here.

The situation now is actually quite stable. Whether it's deeply stable, I don't know. It certainly has been a lot quieter, and the people, already there was a mood of increasing optimism and the expectation that things are going to get better.

But, you know, the real problem is, and this is what I put in my paper, based on my observations and my trips around here, is that what's really happened as a result of the events of the past couple of months, and beyond that, a massive decline in public confidence, in public trust in government.

TONIA LIOSATOS: And he says if the situation remains calm, he would support the Foreign Minister Alexander Downer's call to start withdrawing Australian troops from the country.

JIM DUNN: It just depends how it goes. If it's going as it is at the moment, it probably will be alright. But there are still weighing rumours. I had quite a senior citizen last night told me that, you know, that in a few weeks' time there could be an even worse outburst of violence than we've seen so far. I suspect he's wrong, and indeed I hope he's wrong. But the presence of the force, as it is, would of course head that off.

TONIA LIOSATOS: Jim Dunn says yesterday's swearing in ceremony was moving, with increased optimism about the new leadership.

JIM DUNN: There's a lot of expectations about Jose's appointment. A lot of people really think that this time it might work. But a lot of others are just worried that probably it's just another leader.

I went home after Jose had been designated Prime Minister, and I saw him in the house, he was sitting in this darkened room, sitting there just, it seemed to me, to be staring into space, and I went over and put my arms around his shoulders and I said, Jose, you can do it.

ELEANOR HALL: And that's the former Australian consul to East Timor, Jim Dunn, speaking to Tonia Liosatos.

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