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Identifier
Created
Classification
Origin
06DILI363
2006-07-13 11:06:00
CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN
Embassy Dili
Cable title:  

BISHOP NASCIMENTO IS WORRIED, BUT WILLING TO HELP

Tags:   PREL  PGOV  KJUS  KCRM  KDEM  PINR  KPKO  TT  AS  PO 
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VZCZCXRO7682
PP RUEHCHI RUEHNH RUEHPB
DE RUEHDT #0363/01 1941106
ZNY CCCCC ZZH
P 131106Z JUL 06
FM AMEMBASSY DILI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 2796
INFO RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/HQ USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 0331
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 0680
RUEHLI/AMEMBASSY LISBON PRIORITY 0598
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0437
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 0461
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PRIORITY 0537
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0607
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN PRIORITY 0041
RUEHDT/AMEMBASSY DILI 2122
						
					
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 DILI 000363

SIPDIS

NOFORN

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS, IO
PACOM FOR POLAD AND JOC
NSC FOR HOLLY MORROW

E.O. 12958: DECL: 7/13/2016
TAGS: PREL PGOV KJUS KCRM KDEM PINR KPKO TT AS PO
SUBJECT: BISHOP NASCIMENTO IS WORRIED, BUT WILLING TO HELP


DILI 00000363 001.2 OF 003


CLASSIFIED BY: Grover Joseph Rees, Ambassador, U.S. Embassy
Dili, Department of State.
REASON: 1.4 (b), (d)
(1) (C) Summary: Bishop Basilio Nascimento of Baucau told
Ambassador Rees that the new government led by Jose Ramos-Horta
is a positive development that will help to restore confidence
in government, but that he remains deeply concerned about the
future. He cited the armed forces, the police, the Fretilin
leadership, and popular dissatisfaction with some aspects of the
presence of international forces as possible sources of future
trouble. Although the Bishop is a close friend and frequent
advisor of the Prime Minister and hopes to work closely with him
to restore peace and stability, he said that both Ramos-Horta
and President Xanana Gusmao have a tendency to compromise even
when the situation calls for taking a stand. He said the
situation in Baucau and other eastern districts is calm, in part
because of the Church's efforts, although he has heard credible
reports of armed groups of Fretilin militants. The Bishop said
that recent reverses might force the Fretilin leadership to come
to terms with reality, which would be a positive development.
He denied that the Church had endorsed or participated in the
large anti-Alkatiri demonstration in late June that may have
been a factor in bringing about the Prime Minister's
resignation. End Summary.

(2) (C) Ambassador met with Bishop Nascimento on Monday, July
10, in Dili, a few hours after the swearing-in ceremony for
Prime Minister Jose Ramos Horta. Bishop Nascimento and his
colleague, Bishop Alberto Ricardo DaSilva of Dili, had been

seated in the front row along with the new officials themselves,
the President of Parliament, and the President of the Court of
Appeals. In his address to the nation, Ramos-Horta had singled
out the two Bishops for praise, had promised to work closely
with the Church on rebuilding the social fabric, and had
outlined an agenda for his new Government --- anti-corruption,
poverty alleviation, free and fair elections, the rule of law,
and the necessity for Timorese to love one another --- that
might as well have been written by Bishop Nascimento himself.
Despite all this, and despite his close friendship with
Ramos-Horta, when Ambassador asked what he thought of the new
Government the Bishop responded, "I am worried."

(3) (C) Bishop Nascimento said he was worried about three sets
of problems: first, the "disposition" of the Timorese armed
forces (FDTL) and police (PNTL). He said that "they are
injured, some of them physically, all of them spiritually. And
now they see foreigners doing their job. It cannot make them
very happy."

(4) (C) The Bishop also expressed concern about the future
behavior of the Fretilin party leadership. He said he had met
with a delegation of what he called "radical" Fretilin leaders
led by Jose Reis, Secretary of State for the eastern region.
Nascimento said the delegation had expressed Fretilin's
willingness to work with the Church and with others whom the
Alkatiri government had alienated, but that when it got down to
specifics, "They don't recognize that they have done wrong.
They are still unhappy with the selection of Ramos Horta, and
they still talk about Xanana organizing a coup d'etat" to depose
former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.

(5) (C/NF) Finally, the Bishop expressed the concern that the
international forces, particularly those of Australia, might
soon wear out their welcome. He said that on the one hand,
ordinary Timorese are dissatisfied that the international forces
have not had the pervasive presence in neighborhoods that they
believe is necessary to deter arson, looting, and other crimes.
At the same time, the Bishop said people resent what they see as
the arbitrary and authoritarian attitude of the Australian armed
forces: "They came here to help us, not to order us around." He
noted that the Australian forces had not been accused of human
rights violations, whereas the Portuguese paramilitary police
(GNR) had been accused of beating people including anti-Fretilin
demonstrators. But he said people think that "when the GNR
beats us, they beat on the occasion of the errors," whereas the
Australians sometimes seem suspicious and hostile toward people
who have done nothing wrong and about whom there appears to be
no particular reason for concern.


DILI 00000363 002.2 OF 003


(6) (U) Despite these concerns, Bishop Nascimento said that the
swearing-in of Ramos-Horta was a positive development that would
reduce tension. He said he hoped the Ramos-Horta government
would be able to create conditions that would persuade people to
return to their homes, and that he and Bishop Ricardo would
enthusiastically accept the government's invitation to work
together on creating such conditions. He added, however, that he
believed Ramos-Horta's program was awfully ambitious for the
nine months the new Government is expected to serve.

(7) (C) Bishop Nascimento acknowledged that he has long been a
close friend of Ramos-Horta and that the new Prime Minister
often asks him for advice. However, he expressed the concern
that the instincts of both Ramos-Horta and President Gusmao are
"always to compromise --- to equilibrate between Almighty God
and the devil. I don't know if this is always a good idea. It
sets bad precedents." He cited the example of the truth and
reconciliation process in which, instead of being genuinely
sorry for their crimes and seeking forgiveness from the
community --- forgiveness which he said would have been
forthcoming if the apologies had been sincere --- too many
perpetrators were successful in striking deals by justifying or
minimizing what they had done. So in the end there was no
justice and no real reconciliation either. The Bishop suggested
that Ramos-Horta, who had always been in positions where his job
was essentially to be a negotiator, might have to change his
approach now that he is the country's chief executive officer,
since "he has to take a position."

(8) (C) Asked about the security situation in the eastern part
of the country, Bishop Nascimento said it was generally calm,
but that people are worried about reports of armed groups of
Fretilin militants in their areas. "I hear 40 automatic weapons
in Baucau, 60 in Viqueque, and 80 in Los Palos." He said he did
not know whether these reports were true, but that they were
believable, since the details tended to be similar to those that
emerged in the case of the armed group in Liquica led by Rai
Los, and that he had heard these details before the Rai Los
story became public knowledge. Bishop Nascimento also said that
he had heard reports that elements of FDTL were training a large
group of armed men near Baucau, but that "priests have been
looking for specific information and have not found any." He
said a major factor in keeping the eastern districts calm was
that the Church had made frequent appeals to local leaders, to
FDTL, and to problematic nongovernmental actors such as
ex-guerrilla leader Cornelio Gama ("L7").

(9) (C) Despite his concerns, Bishop Nascimento said that it was
a good thing that former Prime Minister Alkatiri and his
associates had attempted to assemble a large group of
pro-Alkatiri demonstrators from the eastern districts to come to
Dili. He said the pro-Alkatiri leaders had been expecting
20,000 people or more --- they had been hoping for a crowd
larger than the recent anti-Alkatiri demonstration that may have
been a factor in Alkatiri's resignation --- but had only been
able to draw about 3000. "Many people, including Fretilin
supporters, refused to come. They belong to Fretilin, but they
do not agree with Alkatiri and Lu'Olo." Bishop Nascimento also
said that if there had been a secret ballot at the Fretilin
Congress in May, reformist challenger Jose Luis Guterres would
have won. "Many delegates from the Congress confirmed this to
me. They wanted change, but they were afraid to vote their
consciences in public. Alkatiri and Lu'Olo know this too, so
maybe now the radical Fretilin leaders will be more in touch
with reality."

(10) (SBU) Asked about reports that the Church had encouraged or
participated in the recent anti-Alkatiri demonstration, Bishop
Nascimento said there may have been participation by local
parish priests acting on their own --- he noted that priests are
"members of their communities" and that there were many
communities in which the people had been virtually unanimous in
believing that Alkatiri must step down in order to restore peace
and stability --- but that neither he nor Bishop Ricardo had
taken a position for or against the demonstration or done
anything to encourage it.

DILI 00000363 003.2 OF 003



(11) (U) Comment: Bishop Nascimento is among the most astute
and informed social and political observers in East Timor. His
pessimistic observations, coming as they did on a day that
appeared to present many reasons for optimism, are worth noting.
It may be even more important, however, that he is more than
willing to accept the new Government's invitation to help
rebuild the country. End Comment.
REES