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East Timor Declares Independence Today

Posted May. 20, 2002 08:59,   


East Timor that has been suffering from foreign aggression for nearly 500 years is born as the first new independent nation of 21st century on 20th.

It is recovery of sovereignty after 478 years, since Portugal`s colonial domination from 1524.

However, future of East Timor is not likely to be smooth.

Because it seems that it will not be easy to develop broken economy and to heal after effects of internal strife that is already too deep for recovery.

Ñ Declaration of independence = Chairman of the legislature of East Timor, Francisco Gutteres held ceremony for declaring independence in Tacitolo Plaza, capital Dili at 00:00 on 20th , in which 80 nation leaders attended like the U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and 200,000 citizens.

Xanana Gusmao, hero of independence, who won overwhelmingly in major elections on 14th last month resumes office as the first President after declaration of independence.

People who attended the inauguration ceremony set off firecrackers and carried out torchlight procession after the event.

27 nations like the U.S and 15 representatives of national organization agreed to support 440 million dollars in Dili, till year 2005, when gasoline and gas will be produced in East Timor in full scale.

The U.N. will station 5,000 PKF (Peace Keeping Force) till 2004, in order to help border defense and security of East Timor.

▽ Task and prospect = at first, the problem is how to solve out deep-rooted rancor among people.

The reason why valley of conflict became deep is because people had severe fight for and against independence under Indonesia`s domination.

Bishop Carlos Belo, winner of Nobel peace prize said in mass on 19th morning, “my message before tonight`s independence is peace, tolerance and forgiveness”, and it is due to such reason.

President Gusmao stresses `conciliation`, however, insistence of `condemnation` is also quite high, therefore, it is likely to be not easy for conciliation.

National economy is almost on the verge of bankruptcy.

It is included among world`s twenty poorest nations, as GDP per person is 478 US dollars.

Moreover, national facilities have almost been destroyed after bloody conflict in 1999 for independence.

There is not even a good factory for daily necessities and airport in Capital can take off only two flights.

Most people live on agriculture and half of the population is illiterate.

One of the two new-born babies is under-weight due to malnutrition.

National defense and public security is also not easy, in case PKF withdraws.

There are 60,000 East Timor refugees in West Timor which is territory of Indonesia.

They were militia corps for anti-independence during Indonesia`s occupation or co-operated with Indonesia, and they fled to West Timor after East Timor`s independence.

East Timor`s government advises them to return, mediating conciliation of assault and victim by establishing committee of truth, conciliation and tolerance.

However, most of the refugees are not returning, fearing revenge from victims.

On the other hand, Indonesia declared that it will regard refugees as their people, if they don`t return after Independence Day, therefore, it is likely to be new apple of conflict between the two nations.

Jong-Dae Ha orionha@donga.com