The struggle to rebuild East Timor 

Deputy Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, Jose Luis Guterres, addresses the forum in his opening address

Oppression, corruption and inequity need to be overcome if East Timor is to successfully rebuild a torn nation, according to the Deputy Prime Minister of Timor-Leste, Jose Luis Guterres.

Mr Guterres spoke passionately about a country, which has risen out of the ashes and was looking towards the future, as part of his opening address at the two-day international conference, Democratic Governance in Timor-Leste: Reconciling the Local and the National, which opened at Charles Darwin University yesterday.

“Timor-Leste is a complex country in its relative infancy with a history of fighting and suffering,” he said.

“We are mindful of our past and the atrocities that took place and we are united in the belief that these crimes against humanity cannot go unanswered. The experience is unforgettable but we are looking to the future and rebuilding East Timor,” he said.

Deputy Prime Minister Guterres pointed to the recent occupation of East Timor as a process which has now strengthened sentiment and unity in East Timor.

“We have paid a huge price to live in the East Timor of today, with almost 200,000 lives lost as a result of the fighting,” Mr Guterres said.

“As a state, country and government we are committed to do whatever we can to foster and maintain stability in our nation and relationships with our neighbours.”

Mr Guterres said his government, under the leadership of Prime Minster Xanana Gusmao, had established a number of programs that would further East Timor and provide services essential to the evolution of the world’s youngest nation.

Deputy Prime Minister Guterres also communicated his government’s commitment to addressing issues which had lead to the downfall of previous governments in East Timor.

“We are serious in fighting corruption, oppression, poverty and inequity in our nation. Ideally we want to create a system in East Timor that can last even if there is a change in government and these factors need to be overcome if this is to be a reality.”

Mr Guterres said that East Timor faced a great struggle ahead and he hoped that the informed discussion and debate emerging from the CDU conference would aid in the rebuilding process.

“We cannot develop a nation without academics and educated discussion. We have a lot to learn from other countries and we look forward to what the future holds for East Timor,” he said.