Timor Leste president willing to help in Mindanao peace process

www.mindanews.com, 12 January 2008


DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/11 January) – The Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID), a regional advocacy group, has asked Timor Leste President and Nobel Peace Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta, to help mediate in the Mindanao peace process.

Ramos-Horta expressed his willingness to help, to Gus Miclat, IID executive director and a personal friend of the Timor Leste President from the days of Timor Leste’s struggle for independence from Indonesia.

Ramos-Horta will be in Davao City on January 14 to discuss “Is Long Lasting Peace and Attainable Dream” in a public forum at the Ateneo de Davao University.

In a press statement, the IID said Ramos-Horta told Miclat he is willing to help if invited by both the government and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) peace panels.

Miclat has relayed this information to both the government and MILF, the IID said.

Both parties have yet to respond to IID’s proposal.

Miclat said “IID highly recommends President Ramos-Horta for his unwavering work for a peaceful resolution of the conflict in then East Timor which finally led to its independence from Indonesian rule in 2002.”

He said Ramos-Horta “can very well complement the already exemplary work of Malaysia in seeing through the peace process. He did not receive the Nobel Peace Prize for nothing and his signal prestige and wisdom plus his impartiality can provide the stalled talks a new whiff of energy and perhaps the corridor to an eventual agreement.”

IID had been initiating calls for more political involvement of other international actors in the peace process.

In August, Ramos-Horta sent a message to the IID’s 20th anniversary, affirming that IID's work helped in eventually galvanizing support for the Timorese cause in the region.

Guesting at a forum jointly organized by IID and the UP Law Center to also celebrate the state university's centennial, Ramos-Horta “challenged us to continue the creative and bold initiatives in advocating peaceful and constant dialogue among peoples in conflict, and this proposal is a response to that call" Miclat said.

In 1994, Ramos-Horta was barred from attending the IID-organized conference of the Asia-Pacific Coalition for East Timor (APCET) in the Philippines, by then President Fidel Ramos upon intense pressure from Indonesian President Suharto to stop the conference at all cost.

The IID statement said Ramos-Horta has since been joking about that debacle saying it was just a little "misunderstanding between distant Ramos cousins,” alluding to their common surnames.

"However, he is now returning to the country and in Davao City not only as a head of state but a champion for peace who is willing to help the people of Mindanao," Miclat said.

Ramos-Horta’s Lecture-Visit is “part of a program to bring Nobel Laureates to the Philippines, coordinated by Bridges: Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace and International Peace Foundation based in Bangkok, Thailand.” (MindaNews)