The crisis that began in late April 2006, once limited primarily to Dili, is showing alarming signs of spreading into the country’s remote, isolated districts, as political maneuvering has increased dramatically.
One of the key instruments in last year’s violence, the disenfranchised military police commander, Major Alfredo Reinado, continues to elude Australian special forces in Timor-Leste’s southern mountains. He enjoys considerable support across the western districts, and particularly among the frustrated, hopeless youth in Dili.
His small rebellion has severely limited UN, government, and civil society efforts to register voters, conduct voter education, and ensure adequate monitoring of violence and ballot irregularities – all of which has been apparent in analysing the shortcomings of the first round of voting.
Current Prime Minister and Nobel Laureate, Jose Ramos-Horta, having survived the first ballot in a crowded field of seven others, hopes to rally the opposition to his cause
as he enters the second round of voting with Francisco ‘Lu Olo’ Guterres from the
ruling Fretilin party.
Meanwhile, outgoing President and former resistance leader, Xanana Gusmao, is in the throes of an existential battle with Fretilin’s leader, former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, and parliamentary elections scheduled for June 30 will be the proving ground.
With Fretilin’s internal movement for change (Mudansa) threatening to splinter the institution, Xanana hopes to drive a wedge through the party, and triumphantly claim legislative power under the banner of the renamed and newly-constituted National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT).