Subject: AFP: New East Timor govt to prioritize reconciliation: PM

Agence France-Presse August 1, 2006

New East Timor government to prioritize reconciliation: PM

East Timor's new Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta has said his government would prioritize reconciliation and try to restore public confidence in the authorities after months of uncertainty in the tiny nation.

"People have lost their trust in government institutions and the government," the Nobel peace laureate told Radio Timor Leste in a broadcast Tuesday.

"Restoring this trust and people's appreciation of democracy and the state hinges on actions, policies and steps taken by the government in the next few coming weeks," he said.

Ramos-Horta said that the government would cooperate with aid organisations, religious leaders and other important members of society in forging national reconciliation, though he gave few details.

"This constitutional government will set up a special fund to implement reconciliation work, to heal the wounds in the community," the prime minister said.

As part of the program, the government would continue to reorganize the country's armed forces and police, "taking advantage of the presence of international troops."

Fighting between rival factions of East Timor's security forces which degenerated into ethnic warfare on the streets in May left at least 21 people dead and forced some 150,000 to flee their homes.

About 3,200 foreign peacekeepers were deployed to Dili to restore calm.

The armed forces, he said, would undergo remodelling and reform "to face the most serious threats to be faced by the country in the future," while the police, "which fell and sunk in Dili, will have to undergo a reorganisation."

May's violence, triggered by the dismissal of 600 soldiers -- almost half of East Timor's armed forces -- was the worst to hit the nation since it voted for independence from Jakarta in 1999 in a United Nations-backed referendum.

The unrest led to the resignation of Mari Alkatiri as premier and the appointment of Ramos-Horta, who will lead until elections due in May next year.

----------------------------------------- Joyo Indonesia News Service


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