Dili demonstration

dilianz_023.jpg22/06/06 10:30pm The Australian soldiers are doing a great job keeping the demonstrations peaceful tonight.

The rumble of the APC,s going down the road mingled in with the demonstrators is continuing well into the night.

These are a group that came in from the west to encourage Alkatiri to step down.

On Tuesday the President Gusmao sent Prime Minister Alkatiri a letter asking for his resignation.

dilianz_026.jpgI do not know yet what the result will be but it looks like that might be the only way out.

He seems to be a cool cat though, that can take a lot of pressure.

I am not quite sure why the people have had enough of Mr. Alkatiri but once you fall that far out of favor it might be impossible to recover.

Without getting involved with the politics, it looks like Mr. Alkatiri might have realized that one of his former ministers was supplying arms to a group that was causing a bit of trouble to the opposition.

dilianz_024.jpgThe former minister Mr. Lobato has been issued a warrant for his arrest. We will see what happens.

During the day today there were some small groups with loudspeakers during the day having a rally in front of the palace but hardly anyone was there.

It almost looked like it was going to fizzle out.

That afternoon I took a drive 30 km west of Dili. On the way back there was a huge traffic jam ahead which seemed kind of strange.

After winding my way to the front on the line, it seemed that this group was getting ready to move on Dili.

dilianz_029.jpgThey were friendly enough and let me pass and be on my way. There was around 30 trucks packed with men and over a hundred guys on motorbikes.

I almost thought to take a picture but wasn’t really sure if it was a good idea.

At the Malaysian military checkpoint a big APC sat sideways across the road and blocked it but there were only 5 Malaysian army guys there. At the next one they pulled 2 crosswise.

The demonstrators cleared the checkpoints and headed into Dili around dusk.

dilianz_046.jpgWhat eventually happened was a peaceful demonstration that was well managed by the troops.

The Australians did a great job of keeping a lid on everything and the parade was really cool with people chanting and beeping their horns and waving flags and singing songs.

There was a lot of energy in the air.

When the protesters parked the trucks and got out everything came to a standstill and looked like things might get weird but the soldiers calmly got them to go back to their trucks and keep moving.

The Portuguese police were there as well. Their reputation precedes them as they are pretty tough guys.

It was kind of a rush riding in that parade between the APC’s and trucks and motorbikes.

dilianz_041.jpgMost of my pictures turned out for crap but what can you say. It was a bit of a balancing act buzzing down the road and taking pictures with the other hand.

It was a a trip with the horns, songs and tracks clacking against the pavement all the while dodging potholes in the road.

I can understand why people take up reporting.

Now past 10pm the rumbling continues into the night. I stand outside with some of the local folks and watch truck after truck full of singing chanting people pass on by with an Australian APC (armored personal carrier) spaced in there every so often.

dilianz_053.jpgThere is a blackhawk helicopter buzzing by every now and then.

Jose mentions that Xanana Gusmao has decided to resign. His frustration with dealing with Alkatiri is too much. This story is not over yet.

Then along comes a lime green bemo (bus) in the parade with a goat standing on the roof and everyone breaks out laughing.

Tomorrow is going to be interesting.

Jun 22, 2006 www.dutchpickle.com

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