Went for a bit of a drive before a beach BBQ lunch and boy, she is quiet out there. There are people around and they seem calm as can be. Most who intend to leave town look as if they have done just that.
I guess we will know tomorrow just how quiet the normal working week will be. One noticeable feature while driving around is the number of vehicles without registration plates. It turns out that most of these vehicles are probably government-owned and “acquired” for private purposes. So we just remove the government plates. Chances of being picked up for driving without plates is pretty low at the moment.
A few more details of the current situation came out this morning on the TV. A lot of this I have known about for a couple of days, but only as one of the possible rumours. There have been so many rumours, it is hard to know what to believe. Anyway, the commander (presumably now ex-commander) of the military police appeared in a long TV interview this morning. His group of about 20 military police have broken away and headed for the hills. I think this confirmed a series of events that (roughly) goes like this :
The government has been extraordinarily quiet throughout and if they have done anything to allay fears in Dili, it has not worked. President Xanana Gusmao appears to have taken an increasingly important role in presenting a calm demeanour to the public and I believe in negotiating with the protesters. He appears to be the key man. In general, he is trusted and I think he is a good man.
Meanwhile, the situation at the “refuges” seems to be deteriorating from a public health stand-point. The Don Bosco seminary still has around 9 to 10,000 people camped out there. Although water, food and toilets have been provided, the strain on the system is such that health issues are now becoming evident. The Balide convent has around 5,000 and conditions there are apparently much worse. But the people do not want to leave.