Subject: RT: East Timor ends emergency measures

East Timor ends emergency measures

From correspondents in Singapore

August 23, 2006 01:13am


EAST Timor's president suspended emergency measures he introduced two months ago following widespread violence sparked by a split in the country's armed forces, a government statement said.

The statement from President Xanana Gusmao said the situation in Asia's newest democracy remained "vulnerable", but there had been an improvement since the arrival of a foreign intervention force.

Calm has largely returned to the country after a wave of violence, arson and looting from April to June killed at least 20 people. Most of the chaos occurred in and around Dili, the capital of the former Portuguese colony half the size of Belgium.

A "state of crisis", which falls short of a full-scale emergency, was declared by Gusmao on May 30 and then extended as simmering violence continued despite the arrival of a 2500-strong Australian-led intervention force.

The roots of the initial violence were complex, with elements of political and regional rivalries flaring after then-prime minister Mari Alkatiri, who stepped down under pressure on June 26, sacked nearly half the country's tiny army.

Mr Alkatiri is suspected of arming civilians during the violence and has been told by the country's attorney-general that he cannot leave the country.

Nobel Peace Price laureate Jose Ramos Horta has since taken over as prime minister.

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