16 July 2012

East Timor peaceful after weekend's violence, says UN

East Timor Legal News 16 July 2012 Source: Radio Australia 16 July 2012, 14:37 AEST - There have been reports of violence over the weekend in East Timor, as the Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao announced he'll be forming a coalition government with two minor parties but excluding the main opposition Fretilin.

Dozens of cars are understood to have been torched in the capital Dili and the unrest appears to have spread to some of the country's outer districts.

Presenter: Richard Ewart

Speaker: Sandra McGuire, United Nation's mission in East Timor

MCGUIRE: There were sporadic outbreaks of unrest last night in Dili and a few outside Dili in the districts. But this morning it is calm, if you were here you'd see the children on their way to school, it looks normal and one of the interesting things is that the unrest was handled by the national police and handled well, it points to the strength of the national police. Also it was covered well in the country by the national broadcaster on television and radio and they brought in the general commander of the police and sent messages, and things are quiet this morning. So it appears that peace held, which is a good test of the capacity of the national institutions.

EWART: So there was no involvement or no request for involvement from UN peacekeepers?

MCGUIRE: We were on standby as we always are, but the events were primarily contained by the national police themselves.

EWART: Now there were incidents outside the capital I believe in Viqueque and Baucau. Do you know any further details about what happened there, you said that the police were able to handle the situation?

MCGUIRE:  I don't know about any incidents in Baucau. I think Baucau remained calm. My understanding is that a shop was burned in Hera but no one was hurt, and that were also a fire in Viqueque. And Viqueque is a tense area and it remained quiet with the exception of that one incident. It appears to be very quiet this morning so I just came from a meeting with our senior management where I heard reports from across the country and things appear to be quiet.

EWART: Now is the assumption that this violence was sparked by supporters of Fretilin or can we not establish that at this stage?

MCGUIRE: That's a very good question and I don't think we can establish that at this stage. I don't think any of the nation's leaders want to have violence at all, and we have not established who the perpetrators were and what was motivating them. So we can't say that this was politically motivated at all. What we know now that some cars were stoned and that there was these two incidents of burnings. As far as I know at this time there have been no injuries other than to the police themselves. But I don't believe that there's any serious injuries at this time.

EWART: Presumably though although things are quiet at the moment it may be tense for a couple of days at least in light of what has happened?

MCGUIRE: I think that we'll be watching very closely over the next few days. But last night was a real test of the national institutions' ability to handle these kind of emergencies. And this morning is very peaceful, so yes we will be watching very carefully and they'll be coordination between the UN police and the national police. But all in all things look quiet, we will be watching, but things look good.

See also
Timorese Police Contain Violence
Cars burned as violence erupts in East Timor
Violence in Timor after snub to party

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