The Guardian 14 February, 2007

Alkatiri cleared:
Where now for the Australian coup attempt?


An East Timorese court hearing against the former Prime Minister of East Timor, Mari Alkatiri, has seen the charges dropped. No evidence was found that he was involved in or knew about the alleged hand-over of weapons to civilians at the time of the disturbances in East Timor last May.

These allegations were shouted from the housetops by the Australian media and by the ABC in a special Four Corners program which ran with these scurrilous accusations and helped the campaign to force Mari Alkatiriís resignation which was the objective of the Australian government. The ABC reporter Liz Jackson received a Walkley Award for this tissue of misrepresentations and lies.

Mari Alkatiri had committed the unpardonable sin of forcing Alexander Downer to make substantial concessions over the oilfields of the southern coast of East Timor and had to be removed from power.

Following the charges against him being dropped, Mari Alkatiri has threatened to take defamation action against the Australian media and to demand that Ramos Horta now Prime Minister and Xanana Gusmao East Timorís President apologise. They had used the ABC allegations to pressure Alkatiri to resign.

Demonstrations against Mari Altakiri have once again taken place following the charges against him being dropped. Demonstrators demanded that the court officials who came to the conclusion that there were no valid charges against Alkatiri should be sacked.

The campaign of reactionary political circles in East Timor and in Australia is continuing. They are now concentrating on the presidential and parliamentary elections due to be held by the middle of this year. The presidential election is to be held on April 9 to be followed by the parliamentary election.

In the previous election Fretilin won the majority of seats and it is certain that the aim of the Australian and New Zealand governments and of Horta and Gusmao is to defeat Fretilin and put in power the representatives of other political forces and a government that will adopt policies more to the liking of the Australian and NZ governments.

Xanana Gusmao has repeatedly stated that he will not run again for the position of President while Ramos Horta has announced that he would stand provided no other candidate stands against him. His stand smacks of political blackmail.

Australia continues to maintain about 800 troops and New Zealand another 120 in East Timor and these two governments have refused to put their troops under UN command. There are also certain to be special forces operating for Australian intelligence agencies in East Timor. The UN has a sizeable number of police making up its peace-keeping mission.

The Australian and New Zealand governments have yet another deadly weapon in the person of Major Alfredo Reinado who was at the centre of the disturbances last year. He was jailed and has a charge of murder hanging over his head. However he was sprung from jail under the noses of Australian troops. Since then Australian officers have had discussions with Reinado and have made no attempt to re-arrest him although they have an obligation to do so.

A news item in The Australian last week said that a report presented to the UN Security Council dated February 1, said that Alfredo Reinado posed a risk to a free and fair election while he remained at large. The report said that several attempts involving Ramos Horta, the UN and the East Timor military had failed to convince Major Reinado to turn himself in.

In contrast the Australian and New Zealand governments made no secret of their wish to see Alkatari arrested, found guilty and thrown in jail.

Reinado having received training at the Canberra military academy has family and military connections in Australia. It is clear that the Australian government wants to keep him in the foothills out of Dili ready to cause new disturbances to disrupt the elections should it appear that Fretilin still holds a majority support among the people of East Timor.

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