Pante Makassar, 12 February 2017 – H.E. the President of the Republic, Taur Matan Ruak, on Monday morning held a dialogue with the community of the suco of Use-Tacae. In the afternoon he met with the community members of the suco of Ban-Afi. Both sucos belong to the sub-region of Oesilo of the Special Administrative Region of Oecussi-Ambeno (SAROA).

The Head of State began his speech by explaining the main goals of his visit, namely to thank communities for their contribution to the liberation struggle and to call on them to further contribute to ensure well-being for all. H.E. the President also took the opportunity to highlight the significant strides made by the country and the challenges facing Timor-Leste, to call for the improvement of household economy, health and education (reducing expenses with life and death celebrations), and to point out the importance of unity and teamwork towards well-being.

The Head of State also reported on the progress made by other sucos, which should serve as an example and inspiration to other sucos.

On this occasion, H.E. Taur Matan Ruak said that the Atoni people should not be afraid to criticize the representatives of the SAROA authority for acting against the law, as long as they do it openly, and pointed out that there needs to be mutual respect between citizens and their representatives,

“Do not fear Mr Mari, maun Xanana or any of the directors present here today. Timor belongs to all of us. Our brothers deserve our respect when they are humble, but we don’t respect them when they are arrogant. When I was sworn in as President, I met with maun Xanana and openly criticised him. Criticism must always be done face-to-face rather than behind someone’s back. I know the Atoni people. If someone kicks you, you say ‘thank you’.”

During the Q&A session at Use-Tacae, one of the people in attendance applauded the creation of the ZEESM to the benefit of the development of Oecussi, but lamented the fact that communities living in the mountains have no understanding of what the project is all about, nor are they benefitting from it. He gave the examples of the Nolekan Oesilo river without a bridge over it and the road connecting Tono and Pasabe which continues to be in a bad shape.

17 million were spent on the other bridge [over the Tono river]. That’s the reason why your bridge cannot be built yet. There are other bridges that are planned to be built and equally needed,” the Head of State explained.

In the dialogue session held in Ban-Afi, the Head of State called for unity and teamwork that must prevail over political differences with a view to developing Oecussi. Ban-Afi community members also lamented on the poor road conditions and the lack of a bridge.

During both dialogue sessions, the Head of State was accompanied by the administrator of Quelicai (Baucau municipality), the head of suco of Cainliu (administrative post of Iliomar, Lautem municipality), the head of suco of Uaibobo (administrative post of Ossu, Viqueque municipality) and the head of suco of Caicua (administrative post of Vemase, Baucau municipality).