Subject: AFP: UN police in ETimor fire warning shots

Also ETimor candidates should protect rights: activists

Agence France Presse

UN police in ETimor fire warning shots

DILI, April 4 2007

UN police in East Timor fired warning shots after two officers were injured Wednesday in unrest near the Australian Embassy in Dili, a statement said ahead of presidential polls next week.

"The officers brought the situation under control by firing two warning shots," the force said in a statement.

The two officers hurt received their minor injuries when they came across people fighting with rocks, it said.

They had mobilised to the scene of the unrest in the country's capital after reports said roadblocks had been set up near the embassy, but none were found.

The force said that five other people were injured in a separate incident near Dili involving rival supporters, adding the injuries were minor and they were taken to hospital.

It described both episodes as significant security incidents, but it said the situation in around Dili had mostly been calm.

Troubled East Timor holds a presidential election on April 9, its first since it formally gained independence in 2002.

The force said patrols were increased in the capital on Wednesday because of election campaigning and that at least 100 were conducted.

There are fears that unrest could mar the polls, but the statement said election rallies and meetings held in different parts of East Timor on Tuesday all passed without incident.

Unrest has pulsed through impoverished East Timor since 1999, when its people chose self-determination in a UN-administered referendum.

Last year at least 37 people were killed and 150,000 displaced by violence that led to the dispatch of Australian-led international peacekeepers to stabilise the former Portuguese colony.


Agence France Presse

ETimor candidates should protect rights: activists

DILI, April 4 2007

The candidates for next week's East Timor presidential election should publicly commit to addressing the country's human rights problems and propose reforms, a rights group said Wednesday.

"Institutional weaknesses in the police, military and judiciary have fuelled the current crisis in Timor-Leste," Human Rights Watch researcher Charmain Mohamed said.

"Timor's next president should immediately address these weaknesses so that the country can meet its international human rights obligations," she said.

Violence has pulsed through impoverished East Timor since its people voted for independence from neighbouring Indonesia in 1999 after 24 years of occupation.

At least 37 people were killed and 150,000 forced to flee during unrest last year which led to the dispatch of an Australian-led international peacekeeping force to stabilise the former Portuguese colony.

"Long-term stability for Timor-Leste depends on transparent and credible prosecutions of perpetrators of last year's violence," said Mohamed.

Human Rights Watch also called on the candidates to address "the ongoing impunity for gross human rights violations perpetrated during the Indonesian occupation."

The April 9 election will be the first since East Timor formally won independence in 2002.

Eight candidates are vying for the presidency, a largely ceremonial post, amid tightened security over concerns that the poll could be a trigger for more violence.

The fledgling state's current prime minister, Nobel laureate Jose Ramos-Horta, is thought one of the favourites to win, along with Fransisco Guterres from Fretilin, East Timor's largest political party.

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