Subject: SMH: Uprising fears for Timor's coalition

Uprising fears for Timor's coalition

Lindsay Murdoch in Dili

August 9, 2007

EAST TIMOR is heading into a "people power" uprising, one of the country's most powerful politicians said yesterday, as the independence hero Xanana Gusmao took control of a new coalition government.

Mari Alkatiri, head of the biggest political party, Fretilin, told the Herald that he and other party officials would travel the country over the next few days urging their supporters to protest against the government, including by civil disobedience.

"We hope it will not lead to a people power [uprising] but we cannot stop the people protesting for their rights," Dr Alkatiri said. "Civil disobedience is legal. It is a way to do this thing - we will promote it."

Analysts in Dili say Fretilin's opposition to Mr Gusmao's government is fuelling violence that has spread from Dili to several eastern towns, including the Fretilin stronghold of Baucau, where four UN police officers were hurt. But Dr Alkatiri, a long-time political enemy of Mr Gusmao, dismissed the claim, saying his party officials had stopped a lot of violence.

Dr Alkatiri and key ministers in his government who ruled East Timor since independence in 2002 stayed away from yesterday's ceremony where Mr Gusmao and his cabinet were sworn into office by the newly elected president, Jose Ramos-Horta, at a palace in the foothills over Dili.

"I wasn't invited but even if I was I would not attend because I regard that government as unconstitutional," Dr Alkatiri said.

He denied reports his party, which won the most seats at elections in June but not enough to rule alone, was considering a legal challenge.

Mr Gusmao, accompanied by his Australian wife, Kirsty Sword, said his government would implement radical change to lift the country's 1 million people out of poverty.

He nominated the former foreign minister and UN ambassador Jose Guterres as his deputy, an apparent move to placate a breakaway Fretilin faction, which he leads.


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