Subject: Timor Rebels Win New Backing

East Timor has returned to calm after deadly unrest: PM

LISBON, May 14 (AFP) -- Calm has returned to East Timor following last month's deadly riots by disgruntled soldiers, the prime minister of the world's youngest nation said Sunday in an interview published in Portugal.

"The worst is over. I think it was a bad experience for everyone. For those who carried out the protests and then couldn't control them and for us who thought everything would be peaceful," Mari Alkatiri told the Lusa news agency.

"I always said this government was constantly learning. And we are learning," he added.

Sacked soldiers and their supporters staged a rally in the East Timorese capital Dili on April 28 in which five people were killed and more than 100 buildings were damaged.

At least 21,000 people fled the city in the aftermath of the violence, the worst unrest to hit Asia's poorest nation since it voted for independence from Indonesian rule in 1999.

Alkatiri has said the violent protests were an attempt to stage a coup.

As proof that life had returned to normal in East Timor, the prime minister pointed out that his government would on Monday submit to parliament its latest budget proposal.

The assembly will also on Monday debate two proposed government bills regarding election laws for next year's votes for president and parliament, he said.

"These are examples of normality in the activities of the government and the legislature. We are working in a climate of normality," Alkatiri said.

East Timor was a Portuguese colony until Indonesia invaded the territory in 1975, ushering in 24 years of brutal occupation by Jakarta during which human rights groups estimate 100,000 to 250,000 people were killed.

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


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