The army/police reconciliation ceremony

After several days of peace rallies and the like, this afternoon a reconciliation parade was held outside the Palacio do Governo. I will leave it up to the press boys to get the details correct but I think it was the latest incarnation of the F-FDTL (ie army) and the PNTL (ie the police) on parade in front of the PM, President and many other invited guests.

From my more modest position amongst the riff-raff, I could not hear a thing from the sound system until the march off at the end – more later.

From what I could tell there must have been about 200 police and maybe 400 military lined up. It included the military in fatigues and green berets, some other military in khaki, the ordinary police and the military police. The UN police and international military kept right away from it all and concentrated on manning the surrounding roads. Onlookers like myself remained separated by about 100 metres from the activities and I estimate the total onlookers at no more than 200.

As the police and military were in a formation about 4 deep, they stretched about 200 metres across the front of the Palacio and I would guess those on the fringes would have heard little more than I did.

After half an hour of speeches, a few of the police and military started to tire (like me) but after about an hour, a group of Timorese started handing out flowers to the army/police formation. Every one of them ended up with either a flower or in some cases, a bunch. It certainly was strange seeing the boys packing a flower instead of a weapon.  Then an order was given and they all wheeled right (to the west). The recorded music boomed out loud and clear as they marched off to the western end then wheeled around to depart from the eastern end.

I think it was only appropriate that 2 groups who had been at loggerheads several months earlier should march out carrying flowers to the strains of the Monty Python Flying Circus theme music. They were all smiling and so was I.