Subject: AFP: Hunt for Reinado called off

Hunt for Reinado called off

From correspondents in Jakarta

April 17, 2007 09:11pm

THE prime minister of East Timor today said he was calling off the hunt for a fugitive rebel leader blamed for last year's unrest to lure him back to the negotiating table.

"The military operation on Major Reinado has to be stopped to give a chance for the attorney general, Reinado's lawyers and the (East Timor) bishops to resume dialogues," Jose Ramos Horta said.

"The president will meet parties involved today and tomorrow to stop the military operations," he said.

Major Alfredo Reinado, a renegade soldier, has been on the run since crack Australian troops attacked his mountain hideout earlier last month in a failed bid to capture him.

His refusal to surrender cast a long shadow over impoverished East Timor's landmark presidential election this month, although he said he would not disrupt the poll.

Five of his armed supporters were killed during the raid on his hideout, which triggered rowdy protests.

Major Reinado has been a persistent problem for East Timor's Government and is said to have a band of armed followers and to enjoy support from disaffected youths and the backing of an ethnic group living in the nation's west.

The fugitive was criticised for his role in unrest last year that killed at least 37 people, displaced 150,000 and led to the dispatch of Australian-led international peacekeepers.ETimor re-checks votes

16 April 2007

DILI - East Timor officials have said they have found more discrepancies in last week's presidential election while stressing the poll's outcome will remain unchanged.

Some votes counted in the poll, the first since the impoverished nation gained its independence in 2002, would be re-checked amid concerns of irregularities, they said.

"This afternoon, we will reopen 42 ballot boxes because the documents (inside) were incomplete," National Election Commission spokesman Martinho Gusmao told reporters.

Voter turnout was high for last Monday's election and East Timorese hope that concerns about the credibility of the poll will not plunge the tiny nation back into turmoil and bloodshed.

In a closely fought race, the ruling Fretilin party's Francisco Guterres and Nobel Peace laureate Jose Ramos-Horta emerged to run again after neither gained more than 50 percent of the vote.

Gusmao said the votes concerned were lodged in seven districts, including the capital Dili, and were originally counted in Monday's poll.

But he said fears now existed that some of them had not been properly filled in. He declined to specify the problem or the number of votes involved.

Gusmao also said the election commission had lodged legal action seeking to re-examine votes placed in another 26 ballot boxes.

"The CNE (national election commission) is submitting a request to the court of appeal to be allowed to see again 26 ballot boxes because of an inconsistency in data," he said, without saying what the inconsistency was.

Gusmao said the court would determine whether there were grounds for a re-check.

He stressed the checks on votes in both sets of boxes would not affect the outcome of Monday's election, which would be decided in the runoff vote on May 8.

"The checks on those data do not mean that (they) would change the existing preliminary results," he said.

The checks come after it emerged on Saturday that a district with 100,000 eligible voters had produced three times as many votes. The discrepancy was later put down to a technical error.

Some candidates have also alleged intimidation at booths on polling day, and have also demanded a re-count.

There had been fears that violence would mar the vote in East Timor, where foreign peacekeepers have been on the streets for nearly a year after gang violence left 37 people dead and sent 150,000 more fleeing their homes.


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