Subject: Alleged E. Timor hit squad leader hands in weapons [+JP Op-Ed]
also: JP Op-Ed: Timor Leste still needs negotiator Mari Alkatiri
Alleged East Timorese hit squad leader hands in weapons
LIQUICA, East Timor, July 11 (AP): The self-proclaimed leader of a hit squad allegedly formed on the orders of East Timor's former prime minister surrendered his weapons on Tuesday, a vital step in cementing peace in the tiny nation.
The handover by Vincente "Railos" da Concecao could also help uncover the truth behind the allegations, which were a factor in the downfall of former leader Mari Alkatiri, who was replacedMonday by Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta.
Da Concecao and his men handed in 14 weapons to the prosecutor general at a ceremony on a soccer field in the town of Liquica witnessed by Ramos-Horta. Scores of Australian peacekeepers secured the venue.
Da Concecao, a former resistance fighter during Indonesia's occupation of East Timor, says the weapons were given to him in May by former Interior Minister Rogerio Lobato under orders from Alkatiri. He says he was told to kill opponents of Alkatiri.
Lobato was indicted last month by prosecutors on charges stemming from the allegations, and is to face trial later this month. Alkatiri has also been summoned by prosecutors for questioning in the affair.
Da Concecao said Monday the weapons would be used as evidence in Lobato's trial.
It is unclear why authorities have not arrested Da Concecao. Alkatiri resigned after failing to stop violence that erupted in the capital when he dismissed 600 soldiers - more than 40 percentof the country's army - after they went on strike complaining of discrimination.
The decision triggered street fighting between the security forces in the capital that later spilled over into gang warfare, looting and arson that left 30 people dead and sent 150,000 fleeing into tent camps.
Ramos-Horta's appointment has raised hopes the country will get back on its feet.
In his inauguration speech Monday, the respected former foreign minister pledged to restore peace and boost development in the country of 800,000 people, which remains the poorest in Asia nine years after it voted to break free from Indonesian rule.
"This government will be at the forefront in the fight against poverty," he said, vowing to boost public services and make it easier and quicker for foreign businesses to invest in the country.
The Jakarta Post Tuesday, July 11, 2006
Timor Leste still needs negotiator Mari Alkatiri
Kristio Wahyono, Jakarta
Jose Ramos Horta is the new prime minister of Timor Leste, replacing Mari Alkatiri, which will lessen Alkatiri's likelihood of becoming prime minister again in 2007.
However, the people of Timor Leste only notice one side of the coin, which is a series of internal conflicts starting from the dismissal of 600 members of Timor Leste's armed forces, the killing of five unarmed policemen and at least 21 civilians, the burning and looting of houses and stores, 150,000 people fleeing their homes for refugee camps, people obtaining illegal arms to gun down Fretilin's political rivals and an undemocratic election of the party's secretary-general.
But the other side of the same coin is often overlooked.
Although since 1975 Alkatiri was not involved in the guerrilla struggle, like Xanana Gusmao (president), Lu Olo (speaker) or Taur Matan Ruak (the defense force commander), his position as Fretilin's secretary-general since 2000 enabled him to become the prime minister, indicating the brilliance of his strategy after winning the 2001/2002 general election.
That he achieved the highest government position and attempted to make the president's role somewhat "powerless", according to the constitution, also shows his political aptitude.
Perhaps it was because of the euphoria of independence that Alkatiri was able to create and gain vast and strong political support for Fretilin, which also provided similar support for himself.
In a seminar at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies on June 16, 2006, four resource people, including myself, agreed that Mari Alkatiri not only possess a great deal of nationalism, but also has the ability to instill nationalism in others, in the manner of Marxist and Leninist leaders.
It should be noted that the strong presence of Alkatiri in the legislative and executive bodies owed much to the support of certain countries with their own interests.
Alkatiri is fully aware that when Timor Leste was an Indonesian province, Australia and Indonesia cooperated in oil and natural gas exploration, in an oil and gas field called the Greater Sunrise, located in the Timor Gap. According to the profit split, Indonesia would receive 10 percent of revenue from the field, with the rest going to Australia, despite the fact that the field is twice as close to Timor Leste as it is to Australia. Bayu Undan and other oil and gas fields were evenly divided. After Timor Leste gained independence, an Australian delegation insisted on 82 percent of the revenue from the Sunrise field, while Alkatiri, a tough negotiator, demanded an even split.
Despite the fact that the Treaty on Certain Maritime Arrangements in the Timor Sea (CMATS) was signed by Alkatiri and his counterparts on Jan. 12, 2005, following pressure from Western countries to sign the interim Timor Sea Treaty immediately after gaining independence, Alkatiri gained some satisfaction because five months after independence, a Maritime Boundary Law on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) was enacted, asserting Timor Leste's claim of 200 nautical miles of exclusive economic zone in all directions.
Alkatiri also rejected an International Unitization Agreement (IUA) for the Greater Sunrise field, which larger than the Bayu Undan field and straddles the Joint Development Area. The withdrawal of the Australian government from the UNCLOS negotiations in the International Court of Justice hardened Alkatiri's attitude toward Australia's behavior in usurping control of most of Timor Leste's offshore oil and gas resources.
In an interview, Alkatiri said he believed he was being targeted by Australia because of his tough negotiations over oil and gas reserves in the Timor Sea.
Unfortunately, Alkatiri definitely has few friends. He made a mistake in seeking a close relationship with Cuba, which annoyed the United States, in making enemies with freedom fighters, opposing Xanana's concept of reconciliation, forcing young people to speak Portuguese, having a distant relationship with the Church and taking a tough and inflexible line with the World Bank, which wanted to provide loans to Timor Leste. All of these thins accelerated his downfall.
Although Alkatiri may not be a good communicator, it should also be noted that he is an exceptional negotiator. Sooner or later the new government of this tiny country will face stronger pressure from other countries.
Timor Leste still needs a negotiator like Mari Amude Alkatiri, who has demonstrated his willingness to bear tremendous responsibility for the people of Timor Leste.
The writer was former co-director of the Joint Secretariat of the Commission of Truth and Friendship Indonesia-Timor Leste (2005) and Indonesian representative in East Timor (2000-2003). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
------------------------- Joyo Indonesia News Service