Subject: MNEC: JRH on Continuing Efforts to Resolve Tensions (May 12)



12 May 2006

For immediate release


In the course of the day yesterday (Thursday, May 11), Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Senior Minister and Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Dr. José Ramos-Horta, continued his efforts to contribute towards resolving some of the tension still prevailing in parts of the society.

Dr. José Ramos-Horta traveled to Aileu where he visited the district PNTL (National Police of Timor-Leste) headquarters and briefly addressed its officers praising them for their prudence, restraint and moderation in dealing with difficult situations.

Minister Ramos-Horta also urged the PNTL members in Aileu not to allow themselves to be manipulated or influenced by different political agendas or parties, reminding them that they must be neutral in upholding law and order and that they are foremost Timorese and members of a national institution.

The Foreign Affairs Minister then toured the town and its surroundings - with only his normal everyday personal security - and was able to see how the Aileu district is calm with people going about their lives, and civil services, schools and local markets open.

Dr. Ramos-Horta was told by the local officials how diligent the Cuban doctors, NGOs as well as government officials are all continuing to provide basic services to the population.

Finally Ramos-Horta met with a number of members of the F-FDTL’s military police who on May 4, in the height of the tension in Dili, had separated and stationed themselves in Aileu. This group - 20 military police and 4 from the UIR (Rapid Intervention Unit) ­ has with them about 20 or so assorted weapons including pistols.

Foreign Minister Ramos-Horta conversed with their leader and others for over two hours. The conversation was conducted in a most fraternal and honest atmosphere with the soldiers pledging their allegiance to the Head of State and to F-FDTL. They also rejected any notion that they had deserted. They also expressed their strong opposition to violence and pledged they will not be involved in any actions that would harm anyone including the Government. However, they demand an honest and open dialogue within the armed forces as well as a thorough investigation into the incidents on April 28, i.e. to find out the exact number of deaths and their cause. Senior Minister Ramos-Horta will continue his talks with these active-duty men. The Minister informed them he had sent a letter wrote to the UN Human Rights Commissioner in Geneva, inviting that body to send an expert investigation team here.

Major Alfredo Alves Reinaldo emphasized his group had no relationship with the group of ex-F-FDTL members ­ the so-called ‘petitioners’ ­ led by former Lieutenant Gastão Salsinha. Minister Ramos-Horta has also remained in contact with Mr Salsinha.

Promptly after his return to Dili, Minister Ramos-Horta briefed Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri and the Commander of the F-FDTL, General Taur Matan Ruak. Following the meeting Dr José Ramos-Horta is able to assure everyone that on the F-FDTL leadership there is no hostile attitude towards their comrades who are in Aileu and there will be no imprudent action taken.

Today, the Foreign Minister met with the Bishop of Dili, the Rev. Dom Ricardo Silva, and with H.E. President Xanana Gusmão, to brief and coordinate with them any initiatives that might be deemed necessary.

At 1pm today (Friday, May 12), Dr. Ramos-Horta will address PNTL members at their headquarters.

Meanwhile, an hour-long live interview by Foreign Affairs Minister Ramos-Horta on TVTL (Timor-Leste Television) and re-broadcast through RTL (Radio Timor-Leste) has been extremely well received by the population. It had the effect of calming thousands of people. As a result, there has been an outpouring of text messages and phone calls from people from all walks of life congratulating and thanking Dr Ramos-Horta for his wise and calming words but also for his forthright honesty.

During the interview, Dr Ramos-Horta warned Timor-Leste's political parties to behave responsibly in the wake of the current situation or face losing credibility ahead of elections next year. He said that the Timorese people are very wise and will not vote in the 2007 elections for those who want to spread disunity, and scare or threaten the people.

The Senior Minister said in his message to the country that those who want to lead Timor-Leste in the future will have to have a good standing and not use intimidation or violence in getting power, because they would not be recognised by the international community.

The Nobel Peace Laureate appealed to all his fellow countrymen not to seek violence, because only the Timorese would suffer. Instead Dr Ramos-Horta appealed to all to respect the people, government institutions and international regulations. ­ ENDS

For further information please contact: Chris Santos Assessor de Imprensa/Media Advisor Cabinet Office of the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Tel: +670 729 7099

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