Today the Sunday program ran a feature story on East Timor: the transcript is here.
One of the contributors was John Dowd of the International Commission of Jurists, the lead signatory of yesterday's open letter to Mr Howard about David Hicks (see my previous post).
Mr Dowd continues in forthright and incisive vein and puts his finger on a crucial flaw of the current Timorese situation:
The only person elected in East Timor is the president Xanana Gusmao. There has been no democratically elected government...The people didn't vote on a constitution, the people didn't ever approve of a constitution. All they ever did was vote on a list of people to sit in a constituent assembly to draw a constittuion. They had not the slightest idea that the constitutional assembly would make itself into the government and would approve the constitution without the approval of the people.
It is now apparent that when East Timor gained its independence from Indonesia the UN and Australia tried to get out as quickly as possible, leaving the country, as now seems clear, unable to stand let alone walk . Now Australian troops are back with contingents from other nations and , judging from the television footage, are finding that it is no walkover to restore order. It seems that this time a much longer haul will be necessary if a sustainable, stable and democratic society, is to be constructed.