22 September 2011

Ramos-Horta savages Timor leaders

East Timor President Jose Ramos Horta
East Timor Legal News Source: Sydney Morning Herald Philip Dorling September 22, 2011 - EAST Timor's parliament is ''corrupt and ineffective'', Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao has an alcohol problem and former prime minister Mari Alkatiri is ''arrogant and abusive'', according to President Jose Ramos-Horta.

Mr Ramos-Horta's caustic observations have been revealed in leaked US embassy cables published by WikiLeaks.

But the President doesn't emerge unscathed. The Catholic Church is recorded as sharply criticising the East Timorese leader. A senior Vatican official is reported by US diplomats as observing ''Ramos-Horta started with good intentions but had let his Nobel prize go to his head''.

All the US diplomatic cables leaked to WikiLeaks were published two weeks ago, but 390 reports from the American embassy in Dili have not attracted media attention until now.

Mr Ramos-Horta, described as a ''legendary international negotiator'', brands Mr Gusmao as ''arrogant, but he likes to pretend to be humble, unlike Alkatiri, who doesn't even pretend to be anything but arrogant''.

In May 2008, the US embassy reported East Timorese parliamentary contacts as suggesting that Mr Gusmao ''may have an alcohol problem, which is impairing his relations with others''.

The embassy said that during a May 5 meeting with [US embassy officers], James Dunn, an author and long-time observer of East Timor, reported the Prime Minister angered Mr Ramos-Horta by turning up ''visibly drunk'' at a reception in honour of Prince Albert of Monaco on April 6.

Mr Ramos-Horta has also been sharply critical of Mr Alkatiri, whom he replaced as prime minister in June 2006, describing him as ''arrogant and abusive''.

The cables provide a detailed account of events leading to Mr Alkatiri's June 2006 resignation under threat of dismissal by then president Gusmao, as mob violence and looting flared in Dili. Mr Gusmao was ''particularly insistent'' that Mr Alkatiri resign or else be dismissed immediately.

The WikiLeaks disclosures provide new insight into Mr Ramos-Horta's attempts to negotiate with rebel East Timorese military leader Alfredo Reinado, including the involvement of US diplomats as intermediaries, while Australian troops tried to hunt down and kill Reinado.

In June 2007, the embassy reported that Mr Ramos-Horta had asked the Australian commander of the International Stabilisation Force to suspend its pursuit of Reinado so that he could call for the rebel to turn himself in.

But on February 11, 2008, Mr Ramos-Horta was critically wounded in an assassination attempt by Reinado, who was killed in the attack.

The President told the US ambassador that he was ''unable to explain his attacker's motivation'', and described how he lay bleeding for ''20 or 30'' minutes after he was shot before ''a battered ambulance with a driver but no medic arrived''.

James Dunn, a confidant of Mr Ramos-Horta, told The Age yesterday that much of the US embassy's reporting was ''quite perceptive''.


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