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The Future of East Timor: An Interview with Constancio Pinto

The Council for National East Timorese Resistance (CNRT)

The Council for National East Timorese Resistance (CNRT)

Both the CNRT and the Falintil are in a process of transition now. Could you please elaborate on what you think the difficulties are in making the transition from a movement of liberation to a political party or national government? And equally for the Falintil, the problems associated with making the transition from a liberation army to a police force or army?

You know, during the struggle for liberation, the structure was very, what should I say, very simple. And we didn't have bureaucracies. Of course, we had different departments, for example, foreign affairs (and that was the most important one during the struggle), but we didn't really have a structure which reflected a government body.

Also the structure of the resistance changed all the time, depending on the situation on the ground in East Timor and also abroad. And that's why it makes it difficult for us to move from the resistance movement to government. So now we encounter all these difficulties, creating this department, that department, all the things that we didn't think of during the struggle. The main goal during the struggle was to free East Timor, to free East Timor from Indonesian oppression, and then we will see. The rest, that's our big problem. We only think of getting Indonesia out of East Timor and we can do the rest. That was the most important thing.

I think many, many movements have this same problem. Once they reach their goal, they encounter different problems. And that's why, actually, I wrote a book with a friend of mine. And the title of my book is "East Timor's Unfinished Struggle." And I said it because independence itself is not the end of the struggle. Because there is another struggle and it will also be very complicated.

Interview conducted by Nermeen Shaikh of The Asia Society.