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Monday, 27 May, 2002, 09:05 GMT 10:05 UK
East Timor's independence: What next?
East Timor is celebrating its independence on 20 May.

It has been under United Nations administration since voting to break away from 24 years of Indonesian rule in 1999.

Before that it was ruled for centuries by Portugal.

East Timor has high hopes for the future, but faces huge challenges - not least the fact that it will be one of the world's poorest countries.

What are your hopes for East Timor? What does the future now hold?

This Talking Point has now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

There is a very short window of opportunity for East Timor - three years perhaps, during which the aid already pledged by the international community may be able to sustain the economy. During that time I believe that the priorities of the new government should be to establish the rule of law through an effective legal system; encourage education to reduce widespread illiteracy and build an educated workforce for the future that can raise living standards; encourage foreign investment, focusing on the development of it's oil reserves. Hopefully this will set this devastated country on a steady course for sustainable development.
Rex Winkelhake, U.S.A.

God bless the leaders of the new country

Alvaro Arencibia, Cuba
My best wishes to the people of East Timor for their independence. God bless the leaders of the new country. With the support of the people they can rebuild their nation. It is not going to be easy but all together a new country can be built with democracy and respect for human rights.
Alvaro Arencibia, Cuba

The economic challenges facing East Timor are enormous, but they have faced greater odds than these already. If anyone can tackle these problems, it is the people of East Timor.
Sam Perlo-Freeman, UK

Many years ago, I had the good fortune to meet the late Monsignor da Costa Lopes, then acting Bishop of East Timor. His extraordinary courage and love for his people inspired me (and other Canadians) to work for the cause of East Timor. Now the longed-for day of freedom and independence is finally here! May the brave and great-hearted people of Timor Lorosae know only peace, prosperity and happiness in the future. Long live East Timor!
Julia Morrigan Milton, Canada

What do you mean what next? Of course it should be Chechnya's Independence and Kashmir's and Palestine's.
Mohamed-Amin Esat, Kuwait, Kuwait

I am just blessed to see a brand new nation with its own government and flag. What a relief to see yourself free at last
Khalid, USA/ Morocco

With such hearts, these people have laid a foundation like no other for their future

Margaret, East Timor
I write in a state of complete exhaustion after last night's emotional ceremony marking the start of East Timor's independence. There were many extraordinary moments last night, but for me, the most moving was the completely spontaneous applause that swept the field as President Megawati of Indonesia walked on to the stage. They continued to applaud every time her name was mentioned. It was the sound of forgiveness, and it was unbelievably moving.

Let's put this in context: just a few hours before, one of my Timorese colleagues was telling me how he wanted to lay flowers today for his nine family members who died during the struggle, but how they only knew where two of the bodies were. And yet in a moment yesterday, Timor showed the world that forgiveness is the only way forward. What a people. Can you imagine the Palestinians applauding Sharon? The greatness of a nation is measured in such ways, not in size or financial clout. With such hearts, these people have laid a foundation like no other for their future. Viva Timor Loro'Sae!
Margaret, East Timor

When I watched the events in Taci Tolo on TV last night, I could not hold back my tears, not for joy or sadness. But after 18 months with the Timores people, I wonder what this means for them. The main reason why those hot tears of mine roll on my cheeks is, the Timores people must understand that no one stands alone and everyone is free to belief what ever he/she feels is good. I commend Mr Annan for having mentioned that in his speech. Good luck to the younger generation and women of Timor who are the victims of daily domestic violence, and bravo to the brave men and women of the international staff.
Modou Lamin, East Timor

My heart goes to all the people of Timor and may God be always with you and bless you. How exciting to know that a new nation is born at the time of rage and killings in other parts of the world. We all celebrate your independence as we celebrate the birth of a newly born child - with happiness and joy! May God pave your path to success and happiness in the years and centuries to come.
Nelson Petronilho, Portugal

Timor-Leste is now a free country, thanks to the international community. Anyway we can't forget that for long years Portugal tried to focus the attention of the USA and EU on Timor-Leste. We can't also forget that the USA approved the invasion of Indonesia after April 1974 Portuguese revolution that caused Portugal to leave Timor. Now it's time to help. There's lot of work to do building the country and taking care of the most important subjects like health and education. Viva Timor-Leste!
Filipe Mota e Sa, Portugal

If the Timores people unite, then they can achieve a better future

Stella M.Aleman de Gallardo, Argentina
If the Timores people unite, then they can achieve a better future. They need to keep an eye on the government and work very hard for a much better future. I'm very happy for the people of East Timor. They suffered too much. Now is time to see their future with hope. The best to all of you.
Stella M.Aleman de Gallardo, Argentina

It's a good sign that the world recognizes that now a free East Timor is there. I hope that the world will follow the same path to free Kashmir from Indian occupation, as stated in UNO resolutions.
Naeem, Saudi Arabia

Liberation movements everywhere take notice. Replace violence and hate, with diplomacy and peace, and independence can be achieved. The world needs more U.N. referendums and transitional governments to settle disputes in places like Jamu-Kashmir, Western Sahara, West Papua, Aceh, New Caledonia, Palestine... If you believe in a cause, keep struggling and working towards your goal. East Timor's independence proves it.
Art Poirier, Commonwealth of the Northern Marianas Islands, USA

Democracy is the best thing a citizen in any country can get

Shubham Agnihotri, India
This is the start, and with neighbours like Australia, there is a lot to learn and adopt of how a barren land can be turned into the most lucky country in the world. It does require a lot of hard work, but East Timor knows the definition of hard work, as it's proven today as a free democratic country. Something from our heart to the citizens.. and that is, democracy is the best thing a citizen in any country can get. Don't take it for granted, but remember how it is earned and start laying bricks for a wonderful future.
Shubham Agnihotri, India

It has been a long journey for Timor Leste/Timur Timor/East Timor with struggle, cry, and hopes. Itīs time now for forgiveness, and looking forward to building a peaceful relationship between East Timor and Indonesia. I wish the East Timorese a better future from the day of independence and ahead.
Maria, Indonesia

The international community has done their their part is up to you now,indepedance does not mean stting on the road and playing guiter or going to cock fight, but it means a lot of sacrifice and it time for Malai to go home.
Modou Lamin, East Timor

Independence is a long awaited dream that has finally come true for the people of East Timor. International law has finally succeeded in granting justice and self-determination to the Timorese notwithstanding the never-ending obstacles they encountered in their path. My most heart-felt wishes go to the people of East Timor in this moment of joy and happiness!
Sofia, UK

Economically, perhaps East Timor should attempt to develop an economy similar to Singapore

Rahul Laxman Iyer, USA
Democracy is good, but corruption is intolerable. Economically, perhaps East Timor should attempt to develop an economy similar to Singapore, even though the Singaporean government at times is authoritarian and autocratic. I hope that if East Timor opts to go this route that the autocratic and authoritarian elements of the Singaporean model can be perhaps softened and applied in a different manner as East Timor attempts to do what Singapore did in the 1960s and 1970s.
Rahul Laxman Iyer, USA

Any sign of disunity (real or staged) or weakness of resolve by Australia and the U.N will result in further misery to add to that if the last twenty five years.
Len Payne, Australia

Many people have made this possible

Marcella Carew, East Timor
The combined efforts of East Timor's leaders and the thousands of international men and women who have inspired and nurtured aspirations for freedom, finally made possible by a collective effort to maintain peace and allow democracy to flourish in a territory that is about to become the world's newest nation. Many people have made this possible and on the 19th and 20th of May 2002, the hearts of the East Timorese people around the world will sing, and their spirits soar beyond dreams. The independence ceremonies will be both a celebration and a humbling reminder of this combined achievement.
Marcella Carew, East Timor

Rejoice! The struggle was not in vain.
Guy Chapman, UK

The East Timor Scottish Support Group will be toasting the independence of ET on Monday. We hope the international community will support this emerging democracy and that a new E Timor will be an example of an open society in the region
Donald Reid, Scotland

We wish Timorese a very happy Independence Day on 20 May. East Timor has sacrificed a lot to get her country free, she has many obstacles on her path, but we all hope she can look her country well and prosper. Good luck.
Gurung, Nepal

I hope that East Timor will not be continually sold out, as it has been for over the past number of years. Given the experiences in East Timor and other countries, I expect that it will be traded off again.
Rob Roy, Canada

Hard work make a better life for everybody. Never forget your history. May God bless you all.
Tony Verstrijden, USA

I hope the Australian Government signs the Timor gap gas project on or by May 20. This will be essential to the future development of East Timor and its peoples. In this new era in South East Asia Australia must work with Indonesia, East Timor and its neighbours to create a stable economic community. Viva Timor Lorosae...
Dan, Melbourne, Australia

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