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TIMOR LESTE 20 May 2012 Fragile country turns 10

Timor Leste (East Timor) achieved formal independence on 20 May 2002 and became the 191st United Nations member on 27 Sep in the same year. Since the

May 20, 2012 - NULL

TIMOR LESTE 20 May 2012 Fragile country turns 10

Timor Leste (East Timor) achieved formal independence on 20 May 2002 and became the 191st United Nations member on 27 Sep in the same year. Since then, it has become a member of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and major regional forums. Despite their embrace, plus economic growth and substantial oil revenue, the new country remains poor and politically frail. Its next test comes in 2012 with presidential and parliamentary elections.

It passed the last test. Despite violence in 2006 that brought the country to the brink of civil war

TIMOR LESTE 20 May 2012 Fragile country turns 10

Timor Leste (East Timor) achieved formal independence on 20 May 2002 and became the 191st United Nations member on 27 Sep in the same year. Since then, it has become a member of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund and major regional forums. Despite their embrace, plus economic growth and substantial oil revenue, the new country remains poor and politically frail. Its next test comes in 2012 with presidential and parliamentary elections.

It passed the last test. Despite violence in 2006 that brought the country to the brink of civil war, the May 2007 election was deemed fair and democratic by hundreds of international observers. Jose Ramos-Horta replaced Xanana Gusmão as president, and after parliamentary elections, Gusmão was appointed prime minister. Peaceful elections in 2012 and big anniversary plans can be taken as a sign that Timor Leste's new leadership feels the country is sustaining its retreat from the brink.

The country needs private investors to arrive at the same conclusion. Bloomberg reported on Sep 21 that East Timor is seeking Chinese investment to help diversify its economy and rely less on oil and natural gas revenue.

The Australian government's country brief on Timor Leste notes that it is one of the poorest countries in the Asia-Pacific region. Though it has made significant progress in building an institutional framework to support economic development and promote macroeconomic stability, according to the brief, the country's economy remains fragile. The IMF has forecast GDP growth of 8.2 per cent in 2011, and expects the rate to remain unchanged. A lack of diversification from oil is blamed for the failure of the growth to provide jobs and lift people out of poverty.

The brief notes that Timor Leste faces a range of long-term development challenges to the achievement of sustainable and broad-based economic growth. These include a low skill base and weak public governance, compounded by weak infrastructure. Instability has undermined government efforts to promote private sector investment, leaving it heavily dependent on shared revenue -- with Australia -- from petroleum fields in the Timor Sea.

Another sign that Timor Leste's leadership and its wellwishers consider that the country is well back from the brink will be the staged withdrawal of the Australia-led International Stabilisation Force and United Nations peacekeepers after the election. Any new instability is likely to keep them in place. (WRITTEN Oct 2011)

RELATED READING:

Way open for power shift in Timor Leste (Jakarta Post 10 Oct 2011) http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/10/10/way-open-power-shift-timor-leste.html

Indonesia profile (BBC 7 Oct 2011)
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-asia-pacific-15114517

Dawn of a bright new era in East Timor, land with a tragic past (Australian 8 Oct 2011)
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/travel/dawn-of-a-bright-new-era-in-east-timor-land-with-a-tragic-past/story-e6frg8rf-1226159392352

Way open for power shift in Timor Leste (Jakarta Post 10 Oct 2011) http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2011/10/10/way-open-power-shift-timor-leste.html

East Timor Seeking Chinese Investment, Ramos-Horta Says (Bloomberg 21 Sep 2011)
http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2011-09-22/east-timor-seeking-chinese-
investment-ramos-horta-says-1-.html

Date written/update: 2012-05-20