Viewing cable 07DILI234
Title: EAST TIMOR PRESIDENT RAMOS HORTA LOOKS AHEAD

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
07DILI2342007-06-21 10:04:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Dili
VZCZCXRO1626
PP RUEHLMC RUEHMR RUEHPA RUEHPB
DE RUEHDT #0234/01 1721004
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P R 211004Z JUN 07
FM AMEMBASSY DILI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3584
INFO RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA 0577
RUEHLI/AMEMBASSY LISBON 0938
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 0177
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 0722
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHMFISS/DEPT OF JUSTICE WASHINGTON DC
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUCNMCM/MCC COLLECTIVE
RUEHDT/AMEMBASSY DILI 2956
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 04 DILI 000234 
 
SIPDIS 
 
SECSTATE FOR EAP/MTS 
TOKYO FOR HANS KLEMM 
USUN FOR RICHARD MCCURRY 
SIPDIS 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL:  6/21/2017 
TAGS: PGOV PREL AS PO ID TT
SUBJECT: EAST TIMOR PRESIDENT RAMOS HORTA LOOKS AHEAD 
 
REF: A) DILI 232, B) DILI 218, C) DILI 33, D) JAKARTA 1618 
 
DILI 00000234  001.2 OF 004 
 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: Henry M. Rector, Charge d'Affaires, U.S. Embassy, 
Dili, East Timor, Department of State. 
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d) 
 
 
 
 
¶1. (C) Summary.  In a June 20 meeting with Charge and Poloff, 
East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta expressed satisfaction 
with the ongoing parliamentary election campaign and confidence 
in connection with various post-election political scenarios. 
He confirmed that he had requested that the International 
Stabilization Force (ISF) suspend its search for renegade F-FDTL 
Major Alfredo Reinado.  Ramos-Horta claimed that Reinado's 
supporters were deserting him and reiterated his plan for 
resolving the petitioner issue.  On national security, 
Ramos-Horta said that as President, he intended to dominate 
foreign and defense policy, and that he would not necessarily be 
bound by the "Force 2020" white paper on the modernization of 
the Timorese Armed Forces (F-FDTL).  He said he wanted to 
intensify cooperation with Australia, which was East Timor's 
natural partner in national security matters.  Ramos-Horta said 
he would welcome any USG assistance to the National Police 
(PNTL) and in counter-terrorism.  He was dismissive of UNMIT's 
efforts to complete the investigations of 1999 cases left 
unfinished by the UN Serious Crimes Unit when it closed in 2004, 
saying that these resources should instead be focused on 
strengthening the justice sector overall and that he would not 
permit East Timor's bilateral relationship with Indonesia to be 
disrupted by this issue.  Ramos-Horta's comments on the new 
amnesty law have been reported ref A.  End summary. 
 
¶2. (SBU) Charge and poloff met June 20 with President Jose 
Ramos-Horta.  This was Mission's first meeting with Ramos-Horta 
since he assumed the Presidency on May 20.  The President 
thanked us for our invitation to our Fourth of July reception, 
and readily agreed to make a short speech at the event. 
 
Campaign On Track 
----------------- 
 
¶3. (SBU) Ramos-Horta said he was generally satisfied with the 
conduct of the parliamentary election campaign so far.  He said 
that the June 3 incident in Viqueque (ref A) had shocked people, 
and the parties were now exercising caution in order to avoid 
further problems.  Such disturbances as had occurred since June 
3 were mostly rooted in long-standing local disputes and were 
not really related to the national campaign.  Recent incidents 
in Ermera district which resulted in the arrival of news IDPs in 
Dili, for instance, arose from long-standing local conflicts 
involving land disputes and local power struggles.  Friction in 
the Uatolare area of Viqueque district, he said, went back more 
than 50 years, describing the population there as "really nuts". 
 Hard-line FRETILIN elements there, he said, were out of sync 
with the national party. 
 
¶4. (SBU) We asked Ramos-Horta how he envisioned the government 
formation process following the elections.  He replied that 
there was some ambiguity in the constitution, and that he would 
seek legal advice on the question of whether a majority 
coalition appointed to form a government had to be in place 
before the elections, or could result from post-election 
negotiations.  (Note: Legal experts with IFES insist that the 
constitution clearly allows for post election alliances, as 
distinct from the pre-election coalitions allowed under the 
election law.) He said that he intended at any rate to call the 
party that received the most votes.  There were two most likely 
scenarios, he said.  In the first, FRETILIN would win with a 
slim plurality and would attempt to build a coalition with other 
parties.  This would be difficult because of the antipathy 
FRETILIN has created.  In the second scenario, the National 
Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT) would form a 
coalition with other opposition parties.  He said that FRETILIN 
had been humbled by what "can only be called a debacle" in the 
April-May Presidential elections, and noted that former PM 
Alkatiri had said he would accept an opposition role if FRETILIN 
failed to secure a majority, even if it was the largest party. 
 
 
DILI 00000234  002.2 OF 004 
 
 
¶4. (C) Ramos-Horta said that he had urged former President 
Xanana Gusmao, President of the CNRT, to retain some figures 
from the FRETILIN government with technical knowledge in order 
to manage the bureaucracy.  Ramos-Horta cited Health Minister 
Rui Araujo in this regard, adding that he should continue as 
Deputy Prime Minister.  Charge recalled that a recent report by 
the International Crisis Group had said that the FRETILIN 
government had capably managed some crucial technical matters 
such the petroleum negotiations.  Ramos-Horta riposted that the 
ICG had given FRETILIN too much credit on this score, and that 
many of the FRETILIN ministers were "totally incompetent."  East 
Timor, he said, had relied heavily on foreign advisors on such 
matters and would continue to do so in the foreseeable future. 
 
A Timorese De Gaulle 
-------------------- 
 
¶5. (C) Looking forward to the remainder of his Presidency, 
Ramos-Horta commented that his predecessor, Xanana Gusmao, had 
let constitutional constraints limit his powers too stringently. 
 Ramos-Horta said he envisioned his office, like the French 
presidency, as a full partner to government.  Ramos-Horta said 
he intended to conduct a full review of foreign and defense 
policy shortly after the new government is in place and had just 
advised F-FDTL Commander Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak to 
that effect.  He would not, he said, feel bound by the Force 
2020 white paper (ref B), which was developed with Portuguese 
input.  Australia, Ramos-Horta said, was East Timor's natural 
partner in security issues.  Portugal was too small, too 
distant, and its commitments to East Timor's security were not 
sustainable, whereas Australia had one of the best military 
forces in the world and a clear long-term interest in a secure 
East Timor, particularly in regard to maritime affairs.  Current 
Portuguese involvement in East Timor's national security affairs 
was the doing of "that lunatic," former Defense Minister Roque 
Rodriguez, Ramos-Horta said.  Portuguese assistance was more 
welcome in the areas of education, health, and strengthening the 
judiciary. 
 
U.S. Help Wanted For PNTL, CT 
----------------------------- 
 
¶6. (C) Charge said that the USG was also looking to assist East 
Timor's national security institutions wherever possible. 
Ramos-Horta said that although there were good individual police 
officers, the PNTL was "really rotten" and needed all the help 
it could get.  He said that East Timor's intelligence service 
was useless, capable only of passing on gossip and rumors. 
Ramos-Horta stressed at some length his concern that East Timor 
presented a soft target for terrorists operating in the region. 
He recalled a meeting with then-Deputy Secretary of Defense 
Wolfowitz on this issue that had led to a senior U.S. expert 
being dispatched to Dili.  He said that he would welcome further 
U.S. engagement on this area. 
 
Search For Reinado On Hiatus 
---------------------------- 
 
¶7. (C) Charge asked about media reports that Ramos-Horta had 
called on the Australian and New Zealand International 
Stabilization Force (ISF) to suspend its search for rebel F-FDTL 
leader Alfredo Reinado.  Ramos-Horta confirmed that he had done 
so in a June 18 meeting with UNMIT SRSG Atul Khare and in a 
subsequent discussion with ISF Commander Brigadier Rerden.  He 
had done so, he said, in order to call Reinado on his offer to 
turn himself in if ISF operations were ended. 
 
¶8. (C) Ramos-Horta asserted that Reinado's supporters were 
deserting him, and said his strategy was to isolate Reinado from 
his support base while simultaneously negotiating with him for 
his surrender.  Ramos-Horta discussed his meeting with a group 
of Reinado's men, including Garcia and Susar as well as some 
petitioners, in Same over the previous weekend, saying that they 
were disillusioned with Reinado.  He said that they conducted a 
symbolic handover of one HK-33 rifle to the Prosecutor General 
who accompanied Ramos-Horta to Same, and that this would be 
followed up with a group of 15 or so of Reinado's men presenting 
themselves and their weapons in Dili shortly.  He added that 
Reinado had called him for the first time in months over the 
 
DILI 00000234  003.2 OF 004 
 
 
weekend and that he had been shocked when Ramos-Horta provided 
detailed information on his recent movements.  Ramos-Horta said 
he now received such information from western youths who were 
formerly supporters, a further indication of Reinado's decline. 
He also said that Reinado's claim to be the commander of the 
petitioners had been shown to be false, and that petitioner 
spokesperson Gustao Salsinha no longer had wide support among 
the petitioner group, who he emphasized must be dealt with as 
individuals only.  Salsinha has requested to meet with him and 
he has told his staff to make the arrangements.  (Note: Our 
sources indicate that Susar et al are still allied with Reinado, 
and that those petitioners who still identify themselves as such 
still regard Salsinha and Reinado as their leaders.) 
 
¶9. (C) Ramos-Horta went on to say that he was looking into a 
variety of incentives for petitioners who decided to return, 
including offers of contract work in Korea, separation with 
three years' salary, reintegration into the F-FDTL under certain 
conditions, etc.  The petitioners would also receive a formal 
apology from the F-FDTL leaderships for its actions prior to and 
doing the April-May 2006 crisis.  Once he had negotiated a 
package acceptable to the petitioners, Ramos-Horta said, he 
would ask for the endorsement of the political parties, the 
Church, and the international community.  Ramos-Horta claims to 
have F-FDTL buy in for this approach.  (Note: This is the same 
package that he has been promoting to resolve the petitioner 
issue for a while.  Our understanding is that F-FDTL opposition 
to any reintegration remains the key obstacle.) 
 
Time For IDPs To Clear Out 
-------------------------- 
 
¶10. (SBU) We asked for Ramos-Horta's assessment of the 
continuing problem of thousands of Internally Displaced Persons 
(IDPs) in camps around Dili.  He said that this was a pressing 
matter for after the elections.  Thousands, he said, are in 
reality squatters who face no real security threat, take 
advantage of food distributions in the camps, and return to 
their old homes on the weekend.  The camps are now a breeding 
ground for gang-related activity, he said.  Ramos-Horta said he 
had recently met with UNMIT and the Ministry of Labor on this 
issue.  After the elections, he said, he will to develop a plan 
to deal with the gang problem in the camps and get IDPs who are 
no longer in danger back to their homes. 
 
Jakarta Ties Trump SCU Investigations 
------------------------------------- 
 
¶11. (C) We asked for the President's views on UNMIT's efforts to 
complete the investigations of the Serious Crimes Unit. 
Ramos-Horta replied that the UN's resources would be better 
devoted to strengthening East Timor's judicial system.  East 
Timor, he stressed, must maintain good relations with Indonesia, 
which had been remarkably accepting East Timor's independence 
since 2002.  Any Timorese support for attempts to create a 
special tribunal for these crimes would wreck this excellent 
bilateral relationship that has been established so far and 
would strengthen the hand of hard-line nationalist and Islamist 
opponents of President Yudhoyono in Jakarta.  East Timor, 
Ramos-Horta said, should not take these good relations for 
granted.  Recalling his recent visit to Jakarta (ref D), he 
contrasted the warm welcome he had received with the case of 
France and Algeria.  Algeria, he said, had been independent for 
thirty years before it became possible for Presidents Chirac and 
Bouteflika to exchange visits. 
 
¶12. (C) Warming to his historical theme, Ramos-Horta said that 
East Timor must put past resentments behind it and look toward 
the future.  There was ample blame on all sides for the 
country's misfortunes in the pre-independence years.  He said he 
bore the U.S. no ill-will for allegedly having "given the green 
light" for Indonesia to intervene in 1975.  Following the fall 
of Saigon, Ramos-Horta said, the Soviet Union, embracing the 
Brezhnev doctrine, was supporting Communist movements in the 
Third World, and the Vietnamese government had openly stated its 
intention to liberate Southeast Asia.  The Unites States, 
Ramos-Horta said, had therefore had good reason to believe that 
Communism was on the rise at that time, and the Timorese people 
were in fact lucky to have been spared Communist rule. 
 
DILI 00000234  004.2 OF 004 
 
 
Ramos-Horta said that the various Timorese factions had 
themselves invited disaster by escalating the political conflict 
into outright civil war in 1974-75.  "Our stupid students who 
came back from Lisbon and spread Marxist revolutionary ideas," 
were also culpable, Ramos-Horta said. 
 
Comment 
------ 
 
¶13. (C) Ramos-Horta's ambiguity regarding how he will proceed 
with the government formation process is somewhat worrying.  It 
is possible that he is simply being evasive regarding how he 
intends to proceed.  However, if he indeed is unclear on the 
constitutional options and how he will address the potential for 
conflicting claims to the right to form a government, this could 
contribute to a difficult post-election process.  Ramos-Horta's 
insistence that he will take the lead on security and foreign 
policy issues is of note and may put him at odds with Xanana 
Gusmao should the latter become Prime Minister.  Gusmao has 
particularly emphasized the need to reform the F-FDTL and the 
PNTL as key reasons for his establishment of the CNRT party and 
post assesses that he is unlikely to leave security issues to 
Ramos-Horta.  Finally, it is also important to note that 
Ramos-Horta's claims regarding progress on both the Reinado and 
petitioner issues are very familiar and repeated themes that 
have yet to bear fruit.  Post believes he may be overstating the 
extent of splintering among both Reinado's men and the 
petitioners.  Moreover, his insistence that he has convinced 
F-FDTL leadership to accept his proposal for the petitioners 
does not match with our most recent information that the F-FDTL 
leadership remains adamantly opposed to any petitioners 
returning to their ranks.  End comment. 
RECTOR