FRENTE REVOLUCIONÁRIA DO TIMOR-LESTE INDEPENDENTE
November 16, 2007
Attempt on Lu'Olo's life marks new low in Timor Leste politics
At about 4.40 am on Friday November 2, a drive-by shooting of the house of FRETILIN President Francisco Lu'Olo Guterres marked the first attempted assassination of a national leader and a new low in Timorese politics despite the mid-year presidential and parliamentary elections.
Lu'Olo was the commander of the FALINTIL guerrilla resistance at the time of the Indonesian defeat in the 1999 UN referendum, and the first President of the National Parliament, elected in May 2001. He is a member of the current parliament. All this makes him a living symbol of the Timor Leste liberation struggle, and this shooting a major incident.
Since the new government was installed in early August, FRETILIN has maintained its view that the Prime Minister, Jose Xanana Gusmao, was not properly appointed, and has maintained a vigorous role as an Opposition. It has held two well-attended 'retreats' at which its policies and grassroots structures have been reviewed and strengthened.
"This resilience was not expected by our opponents, and this may explain the underlying tensions behind this, which I personally regard as, at best, a serious act of criminal intimidation, and at worst attempted assassination, the latter which we cannot rule out given that this matter has still to be investigated," commented FRETILIN MP Jose Teixeira.
Lu'Olo's house is in the beachfront suburb Dili suburb of Farol. The vehicle from which the shots came had tinted windows, according to an account made to the parliament by FRETILIN MP Inacio Moreira.
Based on information from Lu'Olo himself and his close protection unit, Mr Moreira said, "A car was seen, having come from the direction of Praia dos Coqueiros (Coconut Beach) – Campo Alor, which, when in front of the residence of the former President of the National Parliament, drove by slowly, firing off four guns shots.
"After firing the shots, it left the location immediately. When the close protection security of the former President of the NP came out from the residence reconnoitre the situation, the group left the location. After three minutes, UNPOL arrived at the location to gather details regarding the occurrence, having found still hot spent bullet cartridges, which were taken to the police station", Mr Moreira explained in an interview published in the local newspaper, Jornal Nacional Semanário, on November 10.
The FRETILIN parliamentary group considers the shooting to be an act of terror and is demanding a full investigation to identify the culprits. Mr Moreira expressed strong concern that he had to raise the incident in parliament before it was reported in any local media outlet.
The FRETILIN group was supported by the Vice President of the National Parliament, Vicente da Silva Guterres (CNRT), who considered the shooting as a grave incident and requested the competent authorities to undertake an extensive investigation.
While no one was injured in the shooting, the family living at Lu'Olo's house is terrified. The house is a demountable structure which offers no protection against bullets, and was hit four times.
For further comment: Jose Teixeira MP +670 728 7080 / 0407 293 365