East Timorese President to Stay in Dili

It seems that speculation about the president of East Timor, Jose Ramos-Horta, leaving his country to become UN High Commissioner for Human Rights was a bit premature. Here’s how Ramos-Horta explained his decision:

“An early departure from my current responsibility would result in early elections and this would be an unfair burden on a people who went to the polls three times in 2007,” he told a news conference in Dili.

The possibility of inadvertently fomenting instability in his country undoubtedly weighed heavily on Ramos-Horta. His role, as one analyst describes it, is an important one of “ensuring there is a link between two groups of people who don’t want to talk to each other” in a polarized East Timorese political system. The same analyst, however, sees the potential for more a slightly more cynical motivation on Ramos-Horta’s part:

“By refusing this now, he has managed to put himself on the list for the future,” said Edward Rees, a specialist on East Timor and a former UN consultant on security issues, speaking from Dili. “The list is constantly being used to fill top spots at the United Nations. His name will be on the list, and maybe in a year from now if something comes up, he’ll get it.”

The fact remains, though, that Ramos-Horta’s name was never officially offered the job from the Secretary-General to begin with. Curious indeed.

Once again, stay tuned.