Subject: AFP: E Timor's Reinado 'seeking surrender'

Also AP: Timor rebel says he will not surrender

Monday, May 14, 2007. 7:00pm (AEST)

E Timor's Reinado 'seeking surrender'

Fugitive East Timor rebel leader Major Alfredo Reinado has reportedly written to the nation's outgoing President Xanana Gusmao, seeking surrender.

Reinado has evaded a man hunt by Australian-led troops for months after escaping jail.

He has reportedly repeated his intention to give himself up if military operations against him are halted.

Incoming president Jose Ramos Horta has been quoted in the Timor Post newspaper saying the rebel leader sent the letter to President Xanana Gusmao about a week ago.

"[Mr Gusmao] confirmed that he [Reinado] wants to face justice, wants to meet with representatives of the church and establish contacts to negotiate... to get conditions where he can surrender," Dr Ramos Horta said.

Reinado had been the focus of fears that unrest could mar last week's presidential election, which Dr Ramos Horta won in a run-off.

But the fugitive vowed he would not disrupt polling and instead requested negotiations for his surrender.

Dr Ramos Horta backed his call during the election campaign for a halt to the man hunt, prompting claims he was seeking votes from Reinado supporters, mainly disaffected youths and an ethnic group from the west.

Reinado has been on the run since Australian-led troops attacked his mountain hide-out in March.

Five of his armed supporters were killed during the failed offensive, which triggered protests.

- AFP

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AP

Timor rebel says he will not surrender

May 18, 2007 - 5:49PM

East Timorese renegade soldier Major Alfredo Reinado said he would not surrender to Australian troops hunting him down for his role in deadly violence that brought down the country's government last year.

"They do not want me to surrender, they want me dead," Reinado said in his first interview since last week's presidential elections.

"While I am still alive, I am trouble to them," said the rebel leader, who escaped when Australian troops raided his mountain hideout two months ago, killing four of his followers.

Reinado, who spoke on condition that the date of his interview and his whereabouts not be revealed, questioned the presence of Australian peace-keeping troops in the country.

"We are not an Australian colony, what are the Australians doing here?" the 39-year-old said. "Don't think they can turn us into Papua New Guinea and other Pacific countries. Never. We are friends, but we have to respect each other."

Reinado dismissed last week's election that saw Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos Horta replace independence leader Xanana Gusmao as president.

Next month, the country will vote for the more powerful position of prime minister.

"Ramos Horta (does) not have much power to control who would be in the next government because the president under the constitution doesn't do much; he is just like a picture hanging in the wall," Reinado said.

Ramos Horta declined to respond, but indicated he was willing to negotiate with Reinado, who is a key challenge to his authority in the desperately poor nation.

"I am waiting for a letter from him," Ramos Horta told The Associated Press on Friday.

"I will then convene a high-level meeting involving the United Nations, the international security forces, the government and the parliament to discuss what to do next."

A former military police commander, Reinado is wanted for bloody fighting that erupted in East Timor last year following months of rising tensions within the country's political and military elite.

The violence killed 37 people and led to the collapse of the country's first government since it broke from Indonesian rule in 1999.

Reinado's defiance and strident anti-Australian rhetoric has turned him into a symbol of resistance for some young East Timorese.

His ability to remain free while also giving regular media interviews has shown the apparent weakness of the tiny nation's central government.

East Timor was a Portuguese colony for more than three centuries before it was invaded by Indonesia in 1976. Insurgents spent the next 24 years fighting the occupation, a struggle Ramos-Horta championed from exile.

When its people voted for independence in 1999, Indonesian troops and their militia allies went on a rampage, killing more than 1,000 people and leaving much of the desperately poor nation in flames.


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