Timor-Leste has made good progress towards peace and stability after the violent attacks in February that almost claimed the life of its President, a senior United Nations envoy to the tiny South-East Asian nation the world body helped shepherd to independence in 2002 stressed today.
“We can say clearly that we feel very good about the progress that has been made in Timor in 2008 and the resiliency demonstrated by the Timorese people in a year that started with great challenge,” acting UN Special Representative Finn Reske-Nielsen said in a statement issued in the capital, Dili.
In two separate attacks on 11 February, President José Ramos-Horta sustained serious injuries, while Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão escaped unscathed.
Recent news articles have speculated about an internal UN report alleging that the country is on a downward spiral and on the brink of “anarchy.”
While neither denying nor confirming the existence of such a report, Mr. Reske-Nielsen, who is deputy head of the UN Mission in the country, known as UNMIT, highlighted the progress made in Timor-Leste, particularly during this past year.
“The streets of Dili and the rest of the country are calm and peaceful. There have been solid advances in democratic governance and respect for human rights.
“Much has been achieved in the return of IDPs and a resolution to the issue of the Petitioners,” he added, referring to the thousands of internally displaced persons in the country
In addition, the envoy noted that Parliament is playing its role in an increasingly active manner, and that dialogue between the political parties on issues of national importance is “robust and constructive.”
The Timorese are also focusing on developing a clear and democratically-based strategic vision for the military and police.
“The country is at peace and the people of Timor-Leste are ready to celebrate the Christmas holidays in a calm and dignified manner,” stated Mr. Reske-Nielsen.
“We believe that the Timorese people can be proud of this year’s accomplishments and can look forward to even greater progress in 2009,” he added.