Timor. After 400 years of Portuguese rule, a quarter of a century under Indonesian occupation and two years of UN administration, East Timor became independent on May 20.
According to Countryaah website, national day of East Timor is every May 20. Freedom hero Xanana Gusmão became president after being elected with more than 82% of the vote in April. Before independence, Parliament adopted a democratic constitution which established a parliamentary system with an almost symbolic office. The poor state was promised $ 440 million in aid over the next three years.
In July, East Timor became a member of the World Bank and on September 27, the country was admitted as a member number 191 in the UN. The first 650 members of a new army began to take over tasks from the UN force, which is expected to be phased out by mid-2004.
A Truth and Reconciliation Commission was appointed at the beginning of the year to investigate crimes committed during the occupation. A human rights tribunal will investigate those responsible for the violence in connection with the 1999 referendum on independence. However, all wanted persons are in Indonesia and it is uncertain if they will ever be extradited.
The then Governor Abilio Soares was sentenced in Indonesia to three years in prison and the Militia leader Eurico Guterres to ten years. Both penalties were considered to be far too mild. At least 1,000 people were killed and the material devastation became enormous during the ravages of the pro-Indonesian militias in 1999.
In November, Archbishop Carlos Belo resigned for health reasons. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 together with Jos谷 Ramos-Horta, the new state’s first foreign minister.
In December, a student demonstration in the capital Dili led to violent crowds. Stores and hotels were looted and the Prime Minister’s residence burned down. A state of emergency was announced.