Ryan Dagur – Timor-Leste President Jose Ramos-Horta has underlined the importance of the papal document on human fraternity in building a prosperous country amid serious challenges, including extreme poverty.
In his 100-day term address to parliament on Sept. 15, the president declared the resolution in May to ratify the Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together document as the state's official document.
He said that the document, which was signed by Pope Francis and Grand Iman of Al-Azhar Ahmad Muhammad Al-Tayyeb in 2019, seeks to further promote a "culture of mutual respect between religions and communities across the world."
The resolution "reaffirms equality, recognizes the right to education, to work and to the exercise of political rights," he added. "It recognizes religious plurality and freedom of belief, thought, expression and action as pillars of democracy. It recognizes the common challenges facing humanity, such as peace, hunger, misery, climate change and public health."
Ramos-Horta said he will use his tenure to build bridges between various parties, both within the government and with other parties such as civil society and religious leaders "with the aim of further promoting a culture of peace, to protect our lively democracy and democratic institutions, and to re-energize our moribund economic life."
These cooperations, he said, "seriously confront the moral and ethical challenges of extreme poverty, child malnutrition and stunting."
He invited the Timorese to join in the spirit of human fraternity to pursue and build together a just, inclusive and sustainable society and nation.
Professor Camilo Ximenes Almeida from the National University of Timor-Leste said it was still too early to judge Ramos-Horta's success, but seeing what he had done was quite promising.
"One of the most important breakthroughs that he is currently making is improving relations both bilaterally and multilaterally or with the world organizations as proof that his leadership needs to be supported not only from within the country but also from other countries, regardless of economic or political background and capabilities," he told UCA News.
However, he added, the big challenge is the commitment to his promises during the campaign such as job creation, eradicating corruption, equitable development and access to education and health services.
Meanwhile, Armindo Moniz Amaral, a lecturer at the Dom Jaime Garcia Goulart Dili College of Philosophy and Theology, said the president had done "nothing extraordinary".
He criticized his decision to honor Abdullah Mahmud Hendropriyono, a retired Indonesian army general, who allegedly violated human rights during the country's independence struggle, which he called "absurd."
"This decision not only perpetuates impunity but also hurts the people who are victims of Hendropriyono's activities," he said.
Amaral said as a self-claimed pro-constitutional person, Ramos-Horta also "should have used his authority to overturn unconstitutional laws," such as the law that provides pensions to those who have served as members of parliament, presidents, prime ministers, ministers, chief justices and attorney generals.
Timor-Leste is one of the poorest countries in the world with its estimated GDP per capita amounting to around $1,560 in 2019, according to the World Bank. It also ranks 141 among 187 countries on the United Nations Human Development Index for 2020.