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Timor-Leste: Transition from peacekeeping to peacebuilding – A Timorese perspective

Abstract Timor-Leste, which includes the enclave of Oe-Cusse Ambeno in the Western part of Timor Island, has an area of 14,919 square kilometers and is administratively divided into 13 districts and 67 sub-districts. The last census, concluded in 2010, determined that the total population was about 1, 114 534. Both Portuguese and Tétum are the official languages. In April 1974, the Portuguese empire crumbled and for Timor-Leste the time had come to gain independence. The withdrawal of the Portuguese military and government allowed for the full-scale invasion by the Indonesian Armed Forces on the 7th of December 1975 and the stage was set for a long and bloody war. In the first three years of warfare the structure of Fretilin was almost totally destroyed. Under the revitalised struggle led by Xanana Gusmão it was concluded that there was a need to adopt maximum flexibility through genuine guerrilla warfare. Two decades of growing unity and common purpose led to the vote of independence on 30 August 1999 and the subsequent total withdrawal of Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI) from the territory on 1 November 1999, marking the end of 24-year war. After almost ten years of nationbuilding, the identification of national priorities…

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