East Timor’s Example

Tensions in Timor Leste have been on the rise again since President Jose Ramos Horta broke the political stalemate that followed June's parliamentary election. But Myanmar should stand as a warning to the country's clashing factions, lest any of them conclude that repression and dictatorship are the best solution.

MANILA -- East Timor, now known as Timor-Leste, is the world’s newest democracy. It may have a population of less than one million, but it has a proud, heroic history and a rich culture built up over centuries of diverse ethnic and colonial influences. The island attracted Chinese and Malay traders in the fifteenth century. The Portuguese arrived not long after, and stayed 400 years. Now it is attracting attention as an example of United Nations-led nation-building.

The UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), headed by Atul Khare, consists of a civilian staff of 1,568, of which 334 are volunteers, and a police commissioner, Rodolfo Tor, with 1,623 police personnel from 39 countries. UNMIT’s main job is a difficult one: bringing about national reconciliation. While peaceful parliamentary elections were held on June 30, an atmosphere of apprehension has prevailed ever since. Neither the former ruling party, Fretilin, nor the newly formed CNRT, led by Xanana Gusmão, the hero of the resistance to Indonesia’s occupation, won an outright majority.

At first, the UN, like many Timorese, including José Ramos-Horta, the country’s Nobel Laureate president who won election last May, had hoped that a national unity government could be formed. But a month-long attempt to broker an inclusive government failed. So, in August, Ramos-Horta ended the deadlock by swearing in Gusmão, a long-term political ally and former president, as prime minister.

To continue reading, please log in or enter your email address.

Registration is quick and easy and requires only your email address. If you already have an account with us, please log in. Or subscribe now for unlimited access.

required

Log in

http://prosyn.org/4qd7a6f;
  1. Patrick Kovarik/Getty Images

    The Summit of Climate Hopes

    Presidents, prime ministers, and policymakers gather in Paris today for the One Planet Summit. But with no senior US representative attending, is the 2015 Paris climate agreement still viable?

  2. Trump greets his supporters The Washington Post/Getty Images

    Populist Plutocracy and the Future of America

    • In the first year of his presidency, Donald Trump has consistently sold out the blue-collar, socially conservative whites who brought him to power, while pursuing policies to enrich his fellow plutocrats. 

    • Sooner or later, Trump's core supporters will wake up to this fact, so it is worth asking how far he might go to keep them on his side.
  3. Agents are bidding on at the auction of Leonardo da Vinci's 'Salvator Mundi' Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images

    The Man Who Didn’t Save the World

    A Saudi prince has been revealed to be the buyer of Leonardo da Vinci's "Salvator Mundi," for which he spent $450.3 million. Had he given the money to the poor, as the subject of the painting instructed another rich man, he could have restored eyesight to nine million people, or enabled 13 million families to grow 50% more food.

  4.  An inside view of the 'AknRobotics' Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

    Two Myths About Automation

    While many people believe that technological progress and job destruction are accelerating dramatically, there is no evidence of either trend. In reality, total factor productivity, the best summary measure of the pace of technical change, has been stagnating since 2005 in the US and across the advanced-country world.

  5. A student shows a combo pictures of three dictators, Austrian born Hitler, Castro and Stalin with Viktor Orban Attila Kisbenedek/Getty Images

    The Hungarian Government’s Failed Campaign of Lies

    The Hungarian government has released the results of its "national consultation" on what it calls the "Soros Plan" to flood the country with Muslim migrants and refugees. But no such plan exists, only a taxpayer-funded propaganda campaign to help a corrupt administration deflect attention from its failure to fulfill Hungarians’ aspirations.

  6. Project Syndicate

    DEBATE: Should the Eurozone Impose Fiscal Union?

    French President Emmanuel Macron wants European leaders to appoint a eurozone finance minister as a way to ensure the single currency's long-term viability. But would it work, and, more fundamentally, is it necessary?

  7. The Year Ahead 2018

    The world’s leading thinkers and policymakers examine what’s come apart in the past year, and anticipate what will define the year ahead.

    Order now