Subject: ETimor prime minister vows action after election violence

ETimor prime minister vows action after election violence

Fri Jun 1, 2:28 AM ET

DILI (AFP) - East Timor's interim prime minister Friday vowed stern action after clashes between campaigners supporting rival political parties in the nation's second-largest city.

Several people were injured when violence erupted at a campaign rally in Baucau between supporters of the new party of former president Xanana Gusmao and the dominant Fretilin party, the Timor Leste newspaper said.

Campaigning kicked off this week for the crucial June 30 election to choose a new prime minister and parliament.

Prime Minister Estanislau da Silva said the clashes on Thursday were a setback for the country.

"Nobody supports this kind of incident. Stern measures will be taken against those responsible. This is important, to show that we want our country to progress with peace and stability," da Silva told reporters Friday.

He took over the job last month from Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta who was elected president in a landslide, raising hopes he could help pull the nation from its cycle of violence and poverty.

One person was killed this week when a hand grenade exploded during gang fighting in the capital, police have said.

Tensions have been simmering since the tiny nation descended into turmoil last May when firefights erupted between factions of the military and between police, degenerating into gang violence.

At least 37 people were killed, another 150,000 were forced to flee their homes and foreign peacekeepers were deployed to restore calm.

Fears are held of more unrest surrounding the June 30 election, triggered by supporters of the losing candidates.

Impoverished East Timor gained its independence in 2002 after a bloody separation from occupying Indonesia three years earlier.


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