Timor-Leste (East Timor)


Conflict Summary

Timor-Leste (East Timor) voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia in 1999, and became the first new nation of the 21st century in May 2002. A former Portuguese colony, it was invaded by Indonesia in 1975, and more than 180,000 were killed as the separatist FRETILIN movement and its armed wing, FALINTIL, fought the subsequent occupation. Pro-Jakarta militias opposed the 1999 independence referendum and some 1,400 East Timorese died in the violence surrounding the vote. Since then, the government in Dili has struggled to maintain security, while tackling the nation's extreme poverty. A military mutiny and outbreak of violence in 2006 prompted the UN to establish a new peacekeeping force, UNMIT, and a separate International Stabilisation Force (ISF) led by Australia was sent to the country. After renegade soldiers shot President Jose Ramos-Horta in an apparent assassination attempt in February 2008, he asked the UN to extend its mission's mandate for a further five years. In 2009, the UN responded with a 12-month extension until early 2010. Although it possesses rich gas and oil deposits, East Timor will need foreign aid for many years.