Subject: Fugitive Rebel Soldier Threatens New East Timor Government (Again)

East Timor: Fugitive Rebel Soldier Threatens New East Timor Government

2007-11-23 10:08

GLENO, EAST TIMOR: A rebel soldier wanted on murder charges told cheering supporters in East Timor's hills Thursday (22 Nov) he would destabilize the fledgling nation once again unless the government reinstated hundreds of mutinous troops.

Alfredo Reinado deserted the army with around 600 soldiers and battled police units in the capital early last year. The violence killed several dozen people, sent more than 150,000 fleeing their homes and led to the fall of the government.

The country is now policed by the United Nations.

Reinado, who was surrounded by men with automatic weapons, said if Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao did not reinstate the renegade soldiers, who made up nearly a third of the armed forces, "I will lead my soldiers down to Dili."

"The situation and stability of this country will be worse than last year's crisis," he told the crowd of more than 500.

Reinado was indicted for his alleged role in several deadly shootings between the rebel army troops and police units. Calm was restored by foreign troops and peaceful elections were held earlier this year, but low-level violence continues.

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

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