Posted by: rlearmonth | April 19, 2008

The President Returns

President Jose Ramos-Horta returned to Timor-Leste this week, after having been shot and nearly killed in a raid on his home February 11, 2008. He is widely revered in Timor-Leste, and returned to a very enthusiastic welcome – schoolchildren in their uniforms lined the streets of Dili, government workers were allowed a few hours off to participate, and my Timorese colleagues and I went to a bar overlooking the main road where the caravan was to pass and sipped cappuccino while watching the event.

Those who regularly read this blog may remember that the rebel leader Alfredo was killed in the raid on the President’s home. In the weeks that followed, many of Alfredo’s fighters turned themselves in to the authorities, bringing some hope that the insurgency was finally ending. Ominously, one of Alfredo’s lieutenants recently declared that the raid on Ramos-Horta’s house was not a raid at all, that they went to the house to resume a negotiation begun by Ramos-Horta with them some time before. This seems to suggest that this person is now assuming leadership of the “petitioners,” as the disaffected former soldiers are known, and further, that he has no intention of giving up the insurgency. There could be more tough times ahead.

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