Subject: AP: East Timor leader gives rebel soldier last chance to surrender

East Timor leader gives rebel soldier last chance to surrender

AP - Monday, December 17

Dili, East Timor - A rebel soldier wanted on murder charges in East Timor has one "last chance" to surrender peacefully with his armed supporters or face the government's response, Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao said Sunday.

Gusmao didn't say what action would be taken, but cautioned followers of former military police commander Alfredo Reinado to remain calm because violence would not be tolerated.

Reinado did not turn up for scheduled talks Sunday morning, Gusmao said.

"I give him a last change and the ultimate opportunity to come down and resolve the problem peacefully," Gusmao told reporters in the capital, Dili. If Reinado resists, an "immediate response" will follow a parliamentary session next week, he said.

Reinado deserted with around 600 members of the armed forces last April and fled to the hills after fighting rival security forces. Several weeks of gunbattles, gang warfare and arson killed dozens and drove more than 150,000 people from their homes.

Relative calm was restored by thousands of foreign forces, but low-level violence continues. Asia's youngest nation remains politically volatile and is policed by the United Nations.

Reinado eluded capture when Australian special forces raided his camp earlier this year killing several of his men. Last month, he appeared before a cheering crowd with heavily armed guards and threatened the government.

East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, gained independence in 2002 after more than two decades of brutal Indonesian occupation. Its new political leaders, including Nobel Peace laureate President Jose Ramos-Horta, have vowed to tackle rampant poverty and restore damaged relations between the country's police and army.

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