Unseen Passage: Ramos-Horta

Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta took office as East Timor’s new prime minister on Monday, a move aimed at ending weeks of political turmoil in Asia’s newest nation. President Xanana Gusmao swore in Ramos- Horta under the watchful gaze of rifle-carrying Australian commandos heading a 2,500-strong international peace-keeping force in East Timor. The two men, architects of independence from the Indonesian rule, then put their signatures to paper to cement the appointment. Ramos- Horta, dressed in a dark suit and no tie, took his oath in the president’s office alongwith his two new deputy premiers. During his inauguration speech, made in a hall with unpainted concrete ceilings and bare plywood walls, he promised to send more funds to the poor and maintain security. “The focus has to be on security so that our people, our fathers and mothers and the poor can return to their homes,” said Ramos-Horta, 56, who spent years abroad as a spokesman for East Timor’s struggle for independence from Indonesia. He told a news conference later on Monday that his cabinet would be sworn in and start work this week. “We will work very hard,” he said, promising to cooperate with the World Bank to speed up development in rural areas.

East Timor descended into chaos nearly three months ago when the then premier Mari Alkatiri dismissed about 600 members of the 1,400-strong army when they protested about discrimination. Gusmao named Ramos-Horta premier on Saturday, around two weeks after Alkatiri stepped down after being broadly blamed for recent crisis in the tiny Pacific nation. When rival army and police factions fought, the violence turned into arson and looting that ended only with the intervention of the Australia-led peacekeepers. At least 20 people died and 100,000 became homeless in the violence.

The swearing-in ceremony was seen by various officials and dignitaries, but was not attended by Alkatiri. Prosecutors have said they intend to question the former prime minister over his alleged role in the violence. One East Timor political leader said at the weekend that RamosHorta could face opposition from a section of Fretilin, the dominant party with 55 seats in the 88-member parliament. Ian Martin, a UN special envoy, who arrived in East Timor about two weeks ago to assess the country’s need for further UN help, has welcomed Ramos-Horta’s appointment, saying he hoped it would bring peace and stability to the young country.

Q. On the basis of your reading of the passage given above, answer the following questions.

  1. Ramos- Horta in his inauguration speech promised to:
    1. bring peace
    2. ensure stability
    3. stop violence
    4. send more funds to the poor and maintain security
  2. Ramos-Horta, 56, spent years abroad:
    1. as a spokesman for East Timor’s struggle for independence from Indonesia
    2. as an official
    3. as the President
    4. as a person raising funds
  3. Mari Alkatiri dismissed
    1. about 600 members of the 1,400-strong army
    2. 1,400-strong army
    3. about 300 members of the strong army
    4. about 400 members of the 1,200-strong army
  4. Who among the following resigned from the premiership?
    1. Gusmao
    2. Ramos-Horta
    3. Alkatiri
    4. none of these
  5. The violence in East Timor lead to:
    1. struggle for independence
    2. chaos for nearly three months
    3. the intervention of the Australia-led peacekeepers
    4. both 2. & 3.
  6. ‘watchful eye’ means
    1. to watch
    2. alert eyes
    3. observant
    4. keen
  7. ____________ was a UN special envoy, who arrived in East Timor about two weeks ago to assess the country’s need for further UN help.
  8. Ramos- Horta could face opposition from a section of Fretilin. (True/False)

Answer

  1. send more funds to the poor and maintain security
  2. as a spokesman for East Timor’s struggle for independence from Indonesia
  3. about 600 members of the 1,400-strong army
  4. Alkatiri
  5. the intervention of the Australia-led peacekeepers
  6. alert eyes
  7. Ian Martin
  8. True

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