Security Council deplores attempted assassination of Timorese leader

11 February 2008

The Security Council today joined Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in condemning the attempt to assassinate Timorese President Jose Ramos-Horta during an attack on his residence in the fledgling Asian country’s capital, Dili, this morning.

Mr. Ramos-Horta is in a serious condition in hospital in Australia after earlier undergoing surgery following the shooting at his home. Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão was not injured in a separate attack on his motorcade, but the fugitive leader Alfredo Reinado was killed in fighting, according to the UN Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT).

In a statement read out by Ambassador Ricardo Alberto Arias of Panama, which holds the rotating presidency of the 15-member panel, Council members condemned both attacks “on the legitimate institutions of Timor-Leste.

“The Security Council calls on the Government of Timor-Leste to bring to justice those responsible for this heinous act, and urges all parties in Timor-Leste to cooperate actively with the authorities.”

The presidential statement also stressed that all Timorese should exercise restraint and maintain stability in the weeks ahead and urged the country’s political parties to resolve any disputes they have through political and peaceful means only.

In addition, it endorsed the Government’s efforts to strengthen democracy and ensure public security and stability.

This morning’s attacks were also deplored by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson in a statement and by Finn Reske-Nielsen, his Acting Special Representative to the country. UN Police in Timor-Leste remain on high alert and are coordinating with Timorese authorities and with the International Security Forces (ISF).

Mr. Reinado had been the target of investigations by the UN Independent Special Commission of Inquiry for Timor-Leste, set up to examine the deadly violence that erupted in the tiny nation in April-May 2006. It found the major and his group were reasonably suspected of committing crimes during the fighting.

The 2006 crisis, attributed in part to differences between Timor-Leste’s eastern and western regions, began in April with the firing of 600 striking soldiers, a third of the overall armed forces. Ensuing violence claimed at least 37 lives and drive 155,000 people, or about 15 per cent of the total population, from their homes. The Security Council created UNMIT in August that year to help restore stability.

 

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