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.
Countryaah website, 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
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