In 2009, East Timor had a population of 1,067,000 people and a population growth rate of 2.1%. The economy was driven by the export of commodities such as coffee, marble and sandalwood. East Timor was an active member in many international organisations including the United Nations, Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC). Politically, East Timor was a unitary parliamentary republic with two major political parties: the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (Fretilin) and the Democratic Party (PD). The then President was José Ramos-Horta who had been in office since 2007. He had previously served as Prime Minister from 2006 to 2007 under President Xanana Gusmão. See internetsailors for East Timor in the year of 2011.
Timor. According to countryaah, the police force in East Timor, which was almost disbanded during political unrest in 2006, began gradually to regain control of the country during the year. The force has very limited resources and the UN police who have maintained the scheme in recent years remain for the time being to provide advice and support.
In July, the trial of 37 people accused of involvement in the 2008 assassination trial of President Jos谷 Ramos-Horta began. Among the defendants were military as well as police and civilians. At the start of the trial, the President suggested that he might use his right to pardon at least some of them. See ABBREVIATIONFINDER for abbreviation TP which stands for the nation of East Timor.
The United Nations appoints Brazilian diplomat Sergio Vieira de Melo as leader of the United Nations Transaction Administration (UNTAET) in East Timor to oversee the transition to independence. He is posted to the post in December and quickly creates an advisory political council with 15 members – including Gusmão. In February 2000, Interfet assigned the military authority to the UNTAET military forces. A large number of other UN countries are adding troops to the force, which now gets Vieira as commander-in-chief.
The military situation is still very tense. Gusmão and the CNRT have done much to create national reconciliation and declare that the militants and their families who have participated in the assault can return freely and without danger to East Timor. Still, most militiamen remain in the refugee camps in West Timor, where they have the camps under their control and from where they carry out military operations into East Timor. The UNTAET forces are therefore almost daily attacked.
In March 2000, Indonesia and the UN agree that the responsible violence in August and September 99 will be brought to justice for their crimes. In late February, the leaders of Aitarak – one of the pro-Indonesian militias – meet with the responsible military and political leaders of Falintil in Singapore. The meeting deals with the refugee situation – which is still 140-150,000 in the refugee camps in West Timor – and the reconciliation process.
In August, the UN evacuates its humanitarian staff from the refugee camps after militants killed 3 of them in West Timor. At the same time, the Red Cross office in Kupang, West Timor, states that the organization is unable to provide assistance to the 130,000 refugees in the camps due to the terrorist attacks.
In addition to the security issues, the young state faces other serious problems. UN Transitional Administration UNTAET has helped to build a parallel economy in the country, while at the same time destroying the social situation, as UNTAET cannot provide employment for the many thousands of unemployed in the cities.
During the August 2001 elections, FRETILIN received 57% of the vote and thus 55 of the Parliament’s 88 seats. Parliament was to draft the country’s new constitution and would become the country’s first parliament on independence on May 20, 2002. In September 2001, Mari Alkatiri from FRETILIN resigned as head of government.
In January 2002, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission was set up to investigate the abuse of Indonesian forces during the 25 years of occupation of the country. In Vieira’s words, the Commission was to give the people an “official ear” to listen to its accusations, acknowledge the suffering of the past and open up a real opportunity for reconciliation between victims and executioners. However, it should not give amnesty to those who had committed murders or rapes. Such cases had to be handed over to the ordinary judiciary, to allow the criminals to prosecute. About 100-200,000 died during the first years of the occupation – most of them hunger and disease.
That same month, Jakarta officially set up a human rights tribunal to prosecute and convict officers and others for the abuses committed in East Timor following the 1999 independence referendum. Indonesia had faced international pressure to prosecute at least 18 officers and leaders of paramilitary groups, who had encouraged the pro-Indonesian militias to commit the aftermath of the referendum.