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Friday, May 26, 2006

Is Timor Leste's Prime Minister a Marxist?

Speaking on Radio NZ's Morning Report with Sean Plunkett today, Timorese rebel leader Lt Commander Alfredo Reinaldo had this to say about Timorese Prime Minister, Mari Alkatiri.

He is a communist, a strong Marxist. I know these people well and I do not like them.

How accurate is this charge?

Born in 1949 in Dili, Alkatiri is of Yemeni ancestry and is a Muslim in a strongly Catholic country. In his youth he trained as a surveyor in Angola, before returning to Timor to work in the Public Works Department.

He became politically active at around 20 years of age and in 1970 helped found the Movement for the Liberation on East Timor.

In 1974, after a socialist coup in Portugal created the opportunity to form political parties in East Timor, Alkatiri helped form the Timorese Social Democratic Association.

In 1974 Alkatiri's merged into a broader front, Fretilin. Alkatiri held several posts in Fretilin and in its military wing Falintil.

In 1975, Alkatiri was chairman of the committee charged with drafting the constitution of the newly independent East Timor. He then became Minister of State for Political Affairs.

Alkatiri was in Africa on a diplomatic mission when the Indonesian military invasion of Timor took place in December 1975.

He spent the next 24 years based in Mozambique, for which most of that time was under Marxist-Leninist rule.

In 1977, Alkatiri became foreign minister of the government in exile. The same year, Alkatiri's party, Fretilin formally adopted Marxism. Fretilin developed relations with leftist parties all over the world, with particularly close ties to the Communist Party of the Philippines.

Alkatiri represented East Timor at the UN, the Non-Aligned Movement and international "human rights" organisations.

He was prominent in the various bilateral and trilateral negotiations, held in the '90s to resolve the Timorese situation. Alkatiri only returned to East Timor in 1999, just before the UN supervised referendum on self-determination.

In 1998, the Australian Marxist-Leninist group, the Democratic Socialist Party organised Asia Pacific Solidarity Conference, which was held in Sydney on April 10–13.

More than 750 people participated. In addition to Australian activists, there were 67 representatives from Asian, Pacific, European, Latin American and United States left parties and other organisations.

International participants came from the Japanese Communist Party the Thai Assembly for the Poor; the Malaysian People’s Party, the Singapore Workers Party; the Singapore Democratic Party; the Indonesian People’s Democratic Party (PRD)the Free Aceh Movement; Fretilin (Frente Revolucionara do Timor Leste Independente) from East Timor, the New Socialist Party of Sri Lanka, the Communist Party of India–Marxist Leninist (Liberation); the Communist Party of Nepal (United Marxist–Leninist) ,Melanesian Solidarity from Papua New Guinea; the Bougainville Interim Government; the New Zealand Alliance and NewLabour Party; Maori representatives from the New Zealand non-government organisation Corso; the Polynesian Liberation Front from Tahiti; and the Free West Papua Movement(OPM).

The conference also received a special video message of solidarity from José Ramos Horta, East Timorese Nobel Peace Prize laureate. The New Zealand East Timor Independence Committee also sent solidarity greetings.

From outside the Asia–Pacific region there were representatives from the Party of Democratic Socialism of Germany (the old East German Communist Party) the Revolutionary Communist League of France and the Norwegian Indonesian and East Timor Committee.

A conference highlight was the speech by Dorotea Wilson, a member of the National Directorate of the Sandinista National Liberation Front

The escalating political crackdown in Indonesia made the conference still more timely and urgent. Solidarity with the PRD in Indonesia and the East Timorese resistance was a special feature of the conference.

A major contribution to the atmosphere of struggle and solidarity was the presence of leaders of the PRD, Fretilin, OPM and the Free Aceh Movement. Several workshops and panels discussed the situation in Indonesia and East Timor and worked out plans for campaigns in Australia and internationally.

The impact of the prd was evident. In her speech, veteran Sandinista leader, Dorotea Wilson, explained that her new knowledge of the struggles of the PRD, of fighters like Dita Sari and Budiman Sujatmiko, reminded her of the spirit which pervaded the FSLN during its revolutionary struggle against Nicaragua’s Somoza dictatorship.

The conference was the venue for launching the Indonesian People’s Power Fighting fund. The fund is organised by asiet to provide financial assistance to the Indonesian democratic underground, mainly the PRD. Within the first 24 hours, $1500 was raised from conference participants. Also launched was the first issue of Free Indonesia, the new magazine of the PRD’s international office.

The conference was also privileged to hear Dr Mari Alkatiri, vice-chief of Fretilin’s external delegation, speaking alongside Sutarji and Edwin Gozal from the PRD about the struggle to overthrow Suharto and free East Timor.

Alkatiri was the Deputy Coordinator of the Presidential Council of Fretilin from 1998 to 2001. In 2001, Alkatiri was appointed Chief Minister of the Second Transitional Government and Minister for Economy and Development. On Restoration of Independence Day, 20 May 2002, Alkatiri was appointed Prime Minister and Minister for Development and Environment of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Er, doesn't Marxism have something to do with the ownership of the means of production? Who owns them in ET?

4:39 PM  
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