Neighbourhood watch

East Timor’s Prime Minster, Mari Alkatiri, has resigned, but the story behind the country’s recent turmoil remains highly suspicious. One of Australia’s finest journalists, John Martinkus, has discovered the situation is far more complex than we have been led to believe:

In a wide-ranging interview last week, East Timor’s embattled Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri accused opposition groups and their foreign supporters of repeatedly trying to convince prominent commanders in the East Timorese armed forces to overthrow his government in an armed coup. “They were always trying to get the command of Falintil, F-FDTL. They tried to convince the command to order and participate in a coup. They failed.” It was then he said his opponents embarked on a program to weaken the influence of the military. “When they failed to bring the command to join their forces in a coup then what they did is they tried to break Falintil F-FDTL and they did it by bringing out of the barracks almost 600 which they called the petitioners.”

For the first time Prime Minister Alkatiri has given his version of what exactly led to the chaos in the capital Dili in late May and the breakdown of law and order that led to 130,000 internal refugees and the deployment of 2,200 troops from Australia, New Zealand and Malaysia to quell the violence. He says his political opponents exploited ethnic divisions within the police force to create unrest. “Then they try to influence the PNTL [East Timor National police force]. How did they do it? Through this kind of propaganda, Loromunu, Loro Sae [West vs. East]. They succeeded in dividing the people within the PNTL. This is the whole strategy. Then they put groups of PNTL against groups of F-FDTL in confrontation. And they succeeded again. This is why I requested assistance from outside,” he said.

Senior sources within the command of the East Timorese armed forces; the F-FDTL confirmed that not one but three separate attempts had been made to the leadership of the F-FDTL to lead a coup against Prime Minister Alkatiri in the last 18 months.

At best, Australia’s intentions are questionable.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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