There has been a slight increase in disorder on the streets over the last 10 or so days and also a few false starts regarding the appointment of a new PM. But on the weekend, I think everyone was finally convinced that an announcement would be made yesterday – and so it was. And the associated increase in disorder.
At lunchtime yesterday, I noticed shops starting to close and there was a definite desire to be tucked up at home before 5pm. I believe most shops had closed by then.
From dusk, car traffic dropped away to next to nothing and it was eerily quiet. I heard that Xanana had indeed been named as the new PM and I also heard that Fretilin were going into severe disagreement mode. A sure sign (for me) that trouble was on the cards.
I knew there was a large fire in the vicinity of the Hotel Timor but did not try to find out after dark. There were also reports of tyre burning and general disturbances near the IDP camp near to the World Bank premises. But I heard little more than that last night, particularly once the 10:30pm power cut brought to life the many stand-by generators used around Dili.
At around 7am this morning, I saw huge plumes of dark smoke coming from the direction of the Hotel Timor, although the wind made it seem a lot closer than it was. It was later that I heard (and saw) that the Customs building (located on the west side of Hotel Timor) had gone up in flames – twice. Once last evening at around 7-8pm and again at around 7am this morning (to finish off the bit that failed to burn last night). There were also reports of bad stuff going down near the airport (and presumably the airport IDP camp).
This morning’s UNPol security report for the 24 hours to midnight was far from illuminating. No mention of the fire at all.
Many expats (and locals) are not at work today – particularly those who work in government buildings. The streets are deserted again and most shops (all of them in Colmera) are closed today.
Most people expected something would go wrong but the Customs building one is the most interesting. I have heard 2 stories (there’s probably more !) but one has it that people broke in to get food and decided to burn it (???) and the other that the fire was an inside job with the aim of destroying documentation. Who knows ?
The inauguration of the new PM Xanana will be on tomorrow morning and somehow I think the streets will be deserted until lunchtime tomorrow at the earliest.
I think most people are getting fed up with the inability to come to a stable political situation. Fretilin seem determined not to play ball and have boycotted parliament.
Unfortunately, stay tuned.
On the positive side, at least FOS doesn’t have to change the name of his blog – xananarepublic.blogspot.com