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
7 August, 2007 at 3:10 pm
Any updates on the Aussie expats and othe Aussies living over there.
I have a brother living and working over there smack in the middle of Dili and I am worried.
Do get very brief sms messages from him but not enough detail.
* i heard, but did not see personally, that UNPol stood around the IDP camp near Hotel Timor and did nothing. They waited for GNR to turn up!!
* surely the UNPol can be proactive rather than reactive. By this I mean that it was obvious that as soon as the PM was announced that there would be trouble, mainly from the IDP camps. Why weren’t the police patrolling these areas to dissuade any violence?
One truly wonders at the effectiveness of UNPol
Main presses don’t seem to report in much detail. Thank you for your updates on behalf of people around the world with family and loved ones trying to make life better in Timor.
Keep it coming and stay safe
Although today was very quiet as far as traffic on the streets goes, most of this was precautionary. The ISF (OZ/NZ military) and UNPol (police) have a handle on most incidents. The problem locations are usually the same and anyone here ought to know where not to go or where to move past without waiting.
The ISF/UNPol will usually close down stuff pretty quickly but property damage tends to get far less attention. The local “bombeiros” (ie firemen) are not well equipped so fires tend to go on and on.
At the moment, there is no focussing on expats and without the weaponry, blow-outs a la Iraq or Afghanistan just do not occur. No home invasions, not much more than rock throwing and tyre burning most of the time. Annoying more than anything.
Thanks for the excellent updates, Squatter. You are the best news source for what is going down in Dili. The UNPOL briefings are just about worthless. I’m checking your blog several times a day due to the recent escalation of violence. I’m sure you have checked out the news/video from The Australian – it’s not looking pretty over there. My daughter also reports that the expat community has not been targeted but she unfortunately works in the MAFF bldg, so I once again am a ….Worried Mama
Hello Worried mama. Try not to (worry). We all try to work around this stuff as best we can. I know you’ll worry anyway, but when you worry, I worry about you! Come over for a holiday when all this has passed. It’s a lovely little country, really…..
WM, thanks. I don’t know everything. If I had a car like Mad Max, I might be out there scouring town for rock fights but I don’t. Yesterday, an UNPol officer stopped me at a roadblock and suggested it was not a good idea to be out on my bicycle. He was probably right but a mate went running at Christo Rei on Monday evening and was the only one there.
It really goes like this. The longer you are here, the more accustomed you are to all this. A recent arriver was telling me about the tyre burning and general yahooing near his hotel. He was all fired up and just couldn’t believe that expats were in the bar casually drinking beer. What else do you do ?
As for the dramatic pictures of a big fire I saw on ABC TV, you could walk 50 metres out of Hotel Timor, take your dramatic pictures and be back at the bar in 1 minute flat.
Mrs. Sod is right. If you have a host (ie daughter) who can show you around, you’ll find it very laid back – 98% of the time.