Timor-Leste: The Adventurous Tribulations of Local Governance after Independence

Rui Feijó
2015 " "" Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs   unpublished
Xanana Gusmão recently mentioned that a "Second Maubere Miracle" is underway, implying that a major political reform will soon shake the roots of Timor-Leste's public administration. Decentralization, defined in a very broad sense, has been a constitutional mandate since independence, but successive governments have failed to engage this reform despite paying lip service to its necessity. This essay reviews the options before the policy makers-both in theoretical terms (distinguish-ing between
more » ... nguish-ing between the various definitions of decentralization) and in the pragmatic forms that have been contemplated so far-and discusses their implications for the process of rooting a modern democracy in the country both at the intermediate, district level and at the grassroots, suku (village) level. For this purpose, the essay brings together the author's own field research and the rich literature that has emerged in the recent past, including contributions by Timorese colleagues. " Manuscript Rui Graça Feijó is an associate researcher at the Centre for Social Studies at the University of Coimbra, Portugal. Over the last decade, he has devoted most of his attention to the democratization process in Timor-Leste, where he lived in 2005 and 2006 and has visited for extended periods almost every year since then. He is currently undertaking a new project with Susana de Matos Viegas, focusing on local governance. His most recent book is O Semipresidencialismo Timorense (Almedina, Coimbra, 2014). He is a regular contributor to several academic journals, including JCSAA, Asian Survey and Democratization.