Dili Recovery #2

The Fretilin party congress starts today at the party headquarters on Comorro Road National University. At a minimum, most expect peaceful protests but no-one is sure if there will be anything more. It will be interesting to see what security services are in-place around the premises. Either too much or too little will send the wrong message and there will be many different interpretations on what too much and too little are.

Last night, I heard music and yelling in the distance and initially was concerned, but it turned out to be a travelling political party roadshow. But rather than a political party, it was the Prime Minister (Mari Alkatiri’s) supporters in a jovial mood. It comprised a couple of open-backed trucks with sound systems and supporters hanging off them, plus about 4 buses full of supporters and another ten cars. I believe they stopped off outside Mr.Alkatiri’s current abode and that of the Fretilin party president Mr. Luolo amongst others.

Apparently, there will be a challenge to Mr.Alkatiri’s leadership at the congress – nothing unusual about that at a party congress anywhere.

Over the last week, Dili has slowly started returning to a more normal state. But it still has a way to go before all shops are back operating and the “internally displaced persons” return to their homes.

The Don Bosco seminary still has around 5,000 people and Father Adriano reports that the church in Liquica (30kms to the west) still has 2 to 3,000 – mostly people from Dili. Apparently, they will not return until they see the President, Prime Minister and the disaffected soldiers (& police) in the hills all together smiling and happy. I am not sure anyone expects that anytime soon.

But until that time, the pressure on the facilities at places like Don Bosco is starting to reach limits. A lot of international aid is keeping these places going, but people are getting tired now. It is not easy keeping these places sanitary, grass areas are now wearing away, everything is getting dirtier, the priests and nuns themselves are wearying and general health issues are adding more pressure. Don Bosco is also a school and schooling has been suspended as the classrooms have people living in them. Senior students are turning their hand to running a refugee camp. I am not sure this was ever on the Don Bosco curriculum.