More Trouble in East Timor–President shot in coup attempt

In a previous post, I used the current political situation in the relatively new state of East Timor as an illustration of the importance of having a strong state to facilitate political and economic development.  The situation in that country has become even more dire as we hear that East Timor’s President, Jose Ramos-Horta–a former winner of the Nobel Peace Prize–has been shot in an attempted assassination attempt.  From the BBC:

East Timor’s President Jose Ramos-Horta is in a critical condition and has been put into an induced coma, after being shot by rebel soldiers.

Mr Ramos-Horta was shot in a pre-dawn attack on his Dili home, and later airlifted to Australia for treatment.

Later Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao declared a 48-hour state of emergency, including a night-time curfew.

Mr Gusmao, who was targeted in a separate incident but was unharmed, described the events as a coup attempt.

Rebel leader Alfredo Reinado and another rebel died in the attack on Mr Ramos-Horta.

Australian PM Kevin Rudd pledged to send more peacekeepers to East Timor.

He said the “attempt to assassinate the democratically elected leadership of a close friend and neighbour of Australia’s is a deeply disturbing development”.

Here’s more from the New York Times, and according to this report from Australia’s ABC, UN police failed to help the injured President:

East Timor’s Government says United Nations forces failed to help President Jose Ramos Horta after he was shot in an assassination attempt in Dili this morning.

He was shot in the arm and stomach after fugitive rebel leader Alfredo Reinado launched a pre-dawn raid on his home.

Mr Ramos Horta is now in a serious but stable condition in Royal Darwin Hospital after being evacuated on a Careflight plane this afternoon.

He was sedated on the flight from Dili to Darwin and the hospital says he is suffering three gunshot wounds – two to the upper chest and one to the abdomen.

East Timor Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao, who was also attacked but escaped unharmed, has confirmed that Reinado was shot dead during the raid.

The country’s Foreign Ministry has issued a statement which said that UN police stayed about 300 metres away from where Mr Ramos Horta was shot.

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