Fundasaun Mahein (FM) was saddened to hear that a house had been burnt down last week in the subdistrict of Uatulari in Viqueque district, following the second round of the presidential election. This followed the pelting of rocks onto a PNTL patrol car in the same area on the 16th of April.
These latest attacks are part of a long-standing pattern of violence that has afflicted the area since 1942 and 1945. Major violence troubled this area in 1959, 1975, 1999 & 2006. Violence tends to aggravate during local and national election periods and during the 2007 election, over 200 houses were burnt down, causing widespread destruction as well as the creation of numerous Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).
The F-FDTL presence in the sub-district mobilized intentionally to secure the presidential election was unable to deter these acts of violence. This represents yet another failure in the response adopted by the authorities in trying to prevent conflict from breaking out in Ualulari Subdistrict.
The prevailing tension in Ualulari is deeply rooted in disputes that go back generations, which have become extremely complex over time. However, security actors have tended to resort to using paramilitary techniques when seeking to resolve this issue. These have always failed, simply quelling outbreaks of violence but never resolving the root of the problems.
FM recommends that both state leaders and community leaders in Uatulari work together tirelessly to find the right mechanisms so to create dialogue among the local population in the subdistrict with the aim of overcoming this everlasting problem. These are old, deeply rooted problems, which the PNTL & the F-FDTL are attempting to resolve using modern and heavy-handed techniques and they are failing. Appropriate conflict preventative approaches are required when dealing with disputes that are so deeply entrenched. FM sincerely hopes that during the upcoming parliamentary elections, the people of Ualu Lari are actively engaged in the election and not fall victims to it once again.