Timor prexy urged to help in peace talks

www.sunstar.com.ph, 12 January 2009 


THE Initiatives for International Dialogue (IID) is asking Timor Leste President and Nobel Peace Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta to help mediate in the Mindanao peace process.

However, Horta has told Gus Miclat, IID executive director, that he is willing to help "only if" both the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) will ask him.

This prompted Miclat to relay to the government and MILF the IID's proposal to invite Horta as mediator once the peace talks begin. Both parties have yet to make their response.

Horta is set to visit Davao City on January 14 to give a lecture on "Is Long Lasting Peace an Attainable Dream?" upon the invitation of Ateneo de Davao University, in cooperation with Bridges: Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace and Bangkok-based International Peace Foundation.

Horta's public lecture will be held in the afternoon at the Ateneo Jacinto Campus. Admission is free.

Miclat said the IID highly recommends Horta for his unwavering work in achieving a peaceful resolution to the conflict in East Timor, which was finally granted independence from Indonesian rule in 2002.

He said 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," Miclat said.

Miclat said Horta was barred from attending the IID-organized conference of the Asia-Pacific Coalition for East Timor (Apcet) in 1994 by then president Fidel Ramos upon intense pressure from Indonesian President Suharto.

Horta has since joked 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 is 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. (BOT)