Edited by Léo-Paul Dana, Mary Han, Vanessa Ratten and Isabell M. Welpe
Mats Lundahl and Fredrik Sjöholm Introduction to Timor-Leste Timor-Leste – one of the poorest countries in Asia, with a GDP per capita of US$366 in 2004 (UNDP, 2006: 10) – became a sovereign nation in 2002, after the end of almost 25 years of Indonesian occupation in 1999. During the first four years of independence growth rates were barely sufficient to keep pace with a population that increases with 3 percent per annum (Lundahl and Sjöholm, 2006: 16), in a country with 40 percent of the population living in poverty (Lundahl and Sjöholm, 2005: 13). During 2004, however, it became clear that Timor-Leste was on the threshold of substantial revenues from large oil deposits in the Timor Sea. The future looked reasonably bright in the medium term. This would soon change. Dissatisfaction had spread in certain army circles. In February 2006, a cycle of violence was begun. This culminated with the fall of the government of Mari Alkatiri and the establishment of a potential guerrilla force near Dili under the leadership of Major Alfredo Reinado. Some 133 000 people had to leave their homes, and refugee camps grew up everywhere (Lundahl and Sjöholm, 2007: 29). In 2007, the Timorese went to the polls for presidential and parliamentary elections. President Xanana Gusmão and Prime Minister José Ramos Horta swapped jobs and the country got a new government, based on a potentially fragile four-party coalition. Reinado was killed when he led an attempt to kill the president in...
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