Finance Minister Alleges TMR Will Carry Out Coup D’état Against Xanana Gusmao
Dili, 6 July 2010, Edition XXVII
Despite Taur Matan Ruak (TMR) having repeatedly stated publicly that a coup d’état against a democratically elected government would set a bad precedent for the Timor-Leste nation, there are people who persist on accusing him of wanting to undertake a coup d’état against the government. During a meetig organized by UNMIT last year Taur joked, “I must be the dumbest general in the world. Had I been a smarter general then maybe I might have been like Perves
Musharaf (ed: Pakistani President),” moving the gathered audience to applause.
That was not the first time the general trained in the jungle for 24 years joked in this way, as he took a large UN Security Council delegation to task during a visit by them to the Falintil-FDTL headquarters at Tasi Tolu.
It is Taur Matan Ruak’s character to be honest and confronting, but he has also served the nation with utmost discipline.
Despite this fact the former Falintil Chief of Staff continues to be the target of all sorts of accusations including of acting discriminatorily, being an assassin (ed: as in 2006) and lately of wanting to undertake a coup, as can be seen in an email by Dr. Emilia Pires, the current Finance Minister in the Fourth Constitutional Government, as well as by Ms. Ines Almeida who alleged that Taur Matan Ruak would act undemocratically and carry out a coup against his former Commander in Chief. “ I feel that some people are preparing the land in ET to follow the same steps…..,” (referring to the military coup in Fiji in 2006), wrote Dr Emilia in an email to 13 of her friends on 5 December 2006.
It seems Dr Emilia Pires wrote this after having seen news reports on CNN TV of the Fiji coup and concluded that Taur Matan Ruak was also thirsty for power and would follow the example set by the Fiji Armed Forces in December 2006.
Dr Emilia reminded her friends that signs of this had emerged in Timor-Leste from the strong statements made against the International Forces by Commander Taur.
“TMR has been saying that the army is supposed to raise up again to bring law and order because the international forces can’t do it…..,” Emilia wrote.
Dr. Emilia added that fighting between martial arts groups at the time were a means to facilitate the former guerilla fighters’ taking power.
“These gangs fights I feel is part of the plan to continue destabilizing , so that the army under TMR will have an excuse to raise up and similar things as in Fiji….,” wrote Dr. Emilia Pires.
The former World Bank staffer argued that the Falintil-FDTL could not however do as they wanted because the international community was still present.
“Lucky for us that the UN is there….which makes it harder for those there to justify their actions…..won’t be as easy as in Fiji…….but they will use some other tactics, including terrorism activities as they (F) already announced on their press release on 17 of November,” Dr. Emilia wrote.
Dr. Emilia expressed her fears recalling a conversation with a very senior American officer.
“When last I spoke with an US very senior officer….he told me that nowadays….coup d’états are made by those in power themselves against themselves when they feel they are losing ground….at the time I did not understand but now it is all very clear…..” The same day a good friend and former advisor of Dr. Emilia Pires, Ms. Ines Almeida, who is now a director of the company Lifese Timor-Leste (ed: see statements by Secretary of State for Defense Julio T. Pinto after meeting with Committee C of the National Parliament regarding this company which will construct the very expensive US$8.1 million temporary port for the F-FDTL patrol boats) also wrote an email alleging that General Taur Matan Ruak would move against his supreme leader during the resistance Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao.
“I suspect if Xanana wins 2007 elections F mob will do a coup using TMR who, when elected as PR will be the Chief of Armed Forces. Food for thought,” Ines Almeida warned her friends (15 of them), whom some people have branded “the gang from Australia”.
This newspaper tried unsuccessfully to obtain clarification from the Finance Minister, Dr. Emilia Pires.
Tempo Semanal also tried to speak by telephone with the Minister on her official number but all calls went unanswered, so on Saturday 3 July 2010 at 11:41:06 hours Tempo Semanal sent some questions to the Finance Minister by SMS, inquiring: “Big Sister Minister, I want to confirm with you that which you alleged that Taur Matan Ruak would carry out a coup against the Xanana government. Do you still believe that TMR wants to do in TL what was done in Fiji? Is it the case that the martial arts groups that have re-emerged in Comoro all the way to Java is a tactic to justify TMR acting to bring down the government? What have you done to dissuade TMR not to carry out a coup? Thanks.” This SMS has remained unanswered by the Minister for Finance up to the
time of publication.
This newspaper also tried to seek clarification from Ms. Ines Almeida but we were unlucky because the mobile number for her was switched off, and we were informed by sources close to her that she was away in Sydney.
President of the Republic Dr. Jose Ramos Horta, who is also SupremeCommander of the Falintil- FDTL, told journalists during a press conference at Nicolau Lobato International Airport in Dili upon his return from his state visits to Australia and the Philippines on 3 July 2010 that he has not seen these emails. “I do not know whether or not the Finance Minister said anything of the likes you have said,” he said answering questions on this from journalists.
But the President made it known to Dr. Emilia that, “I can only say that our Armed Forces have been a model to be followed by many countries. You know, even during the height of the crisis our Armed Forces were humble, they never acted in any way against the Constitutional Order.”
He added that Falintil under the Command of Taur Matan Ruak, who never spent one day in a military academy to become a general as have many generals around the world, “defended the Constitution with discipline and when ordered came to Dili to help re-establish law and order, they did so. When I as Prime Minister asked them at the end of May that they return to barracks, they exhibit utmost discipline and returned to barracks. So, I have 100% confidence in our armed forces who over the years have shown professionalism and respect for the constitution despite facing many difficulties.”
Jorge, a former member of the clandestine front from Ermera greatly lamented the attitude expressed by some of his compatriots who returned from overseas. “I think the Finance Minister does not know General Taur and his character. Perhaps she thinks the general has ambitions to rise to the top or to become rich. We steadfastly believe in his honesty, integrity and discipline,” said Pos Kombi.
“I think that the general’s intelligence was gained in a university where many intelligent people such as doctors fear to study. His studies were completed from living with death and suffering, so I believe that the Minister is frightened by his shadow so has defamed this hero Taur Matan Ruak,” said Jorge.
“I ask the Finance Minister to measure her remarks because we will not allow anyone to accuse others because of their own ambitions, to accuse others who have sacrificed themselves and are still sacrificing themselves to defend the Constitution of the Republic,” warned this former senior member of the clandestine resistance.
“I think that the Finance Minister is today working in this country because she is receiving a salary, but General Taur Matan Ruak has from the time when things were difficult shown his loyalty to the nation and continues to this day to show his firm resolve to serve the Constitution of the RDTL . So there is no reason for Ms. Emilia to insult Taur in the same way foreigners have done,” said JG, who is a former clandestine resistance member form Baucau. The leadership of the Falintil-FDTL has been persecuted since the time of the occupation as being communist, subversive elements (GPK), thieves and atheists.
However, Falintil’s struggle for independence has been a struggle against a military regime and dictatorship. “Falintil is the Armed Forces for the national Liberation of Timor-Leste. It is so that Timorese can develop our society in a democracy and in peace,” Taur Matan Ruak told journalists on 17 November 1997 at Mundo Perdido.
“Many of the Falintil-FDTL leadership lived and experienced hardship together with the people so I do not believe they would do a coup d’état,” said Manuel Dos Santos Pereira, a member of the Liquica community.
This newspaper tried to get comments from the Government’s Members of Parliament but they refused to comment.
On the other hand, Mateus da Costa a youth from Becora said the Finance Minister had lived overseas for a long time and so did not know what it was to live under a dictatorship and therefore does not know Taur Matan Ruak. “It often happens that people do not know but speak out regardless like the Minister of Finance has done,” said Mateus.
According to a secret and restricted report dated 31 December 2009 titled “Preliminary Assessment of Achievements, Challenges, Benchmarks and priorities for the UN System in UNMIT Mandated Areas 2010-2012”, Taur Matan Ruak's role is noted as being important. “There is no other figure that has yet emerged who has Taur Matan Ruak’s capacity to lead the Falintil-FDTL. There are some candidates, but there is not one who has TMR’s standing, charisma or intelligence,” the report states in paragraph 42.
The same report also stated, “talk of reform by replacing TMR or other senior Falintil-FDTL officers arouses concern amongst the population; people still do not trust the capacity of the young officers to take over from the Falintil Veterans. TMR however does not try to take advantage over the government due to this fact.”
UNMIT has finally started to recognize the capacity of the Falintil-FDTL and their role, which is something the UN failed to do during the UNTAET mandate. (ends)