Subject: AFP: President tells ETimor to forget past, unite in peace

President tells ETimor to forget past, unite in peace

Sat Dec 22, 2:38 PM ET

DILI (AFP) - East Timor's president Jose Ramos-Horta called for the country to "forget bad things" and unite during a "Peace Concert" in the capital Dili on Saturday.

He made his plea at the city's National Stadium, where 2,000 people had gathered for a "cultural and music programme promoting peace and national unity", according to a government statement. The crowd had arrived there following a "Walk of Peace".

"Let us forget bad things that happened in the past that divide and hurt us and let us unite in peace and love so we can advance to a better future," President Ramos-Horta said in his Christmas message on stage.

During the event local bands and a group from Indonesia performed in front of thousands of people wearing white t-shirts with the word "Dame" -- meaning Peace in the local language Tetum.

Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao separately told reporters his government "promises in 2008 to overcome problems in this country and maintain stability... this is important for the success of this country".

In 2006, East Timor was rocked by clashes between security force factions which quickly degenerated into street violence involving gangs. The crisis prompted the deployment of thousands of international peacekeepers to restore calm.

East Timor, a former Portuguese colony, was separated from Indonesia following a 1999 independence vote marred by deadly violence inflicted by the Indonesian military and its militia allies.

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