Magazine article New Internationalist

New Nation Falters

Magazine article New Internationalist

New Nation Falters

Article excerpt

TIMOR-LESTE remains in a state of emergency after widespread gang rioting and conflict between security forces rocked the capital of Dili throughout May. An estimated 100,000 residents fled the looting and burning, and at least 20 people have been killed.

President Xanana Gusmao declared a 30-day state of emergency and assumed central control of the armed forces in an attempt to arrest the crisis. Australian forces have led a multi-national contingent attempting to restore security and disarm factions. Sparking the crisis, the government of Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri sacked 591 soldiers - a third of the nation's military - for striking over claims of regional discrimination and poor working conditions. The poorly handled dispute escalated when attempts to suppress the protesting army descended into gang rioting and lawlessness.

The unrest is a bitter blow for the world's newest nation, which gained independence after 25 years of violent Indonesian rule in 1999. …

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