Subject: LUSA: Gusmão brokers agreement between dissident veterans and gov't

Dili, July 22 (Lusa) - The East Timorese government and a group of detained former independence-war guerrillas agreed Thursday in talks mediated by President Xanana Gusmão to work together to resolve disputes over veterans' demands for official recognition and aid.

The accord came after Gusmão gathered 31 veterans, detained Tuesday for illegal demonstration, and Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri in two hours of talks that were also attended by journalists.

Alkatiri assured the former FALANTIL guerrillas, who were released from two days in jail, that the legislative process to recognize their contribution to the country's independence from Indonesian occupation was under way.

He also promised to deal with the veterans' complaints of police brutality, pledging increased efforts to better train security forces, both technically and psychologically.

For their part, the 31 freed veterans promised to aid authorities in investigating the incidents around their overnight Monday partial occupation of the government's headquarters that led to their arrest Tuesday.

They also agreed to convey Alkatiri's pledge of "dialogue" and no arrest to the dissident veterans' leader, renowned guerrilla Cornélio Gama, known as "L7", who went into hiding after police dispersed the pro-veteran demonstrators and occupiers.

Many FALINTIL veterans were integrated into the fledgling army and police after independence in 2002.

But many others, demanding "justice and respect", remain unemployed and without any significant compensation for participation in the more than two decades of guerrilla struggle against Indonesia.

Unemployment in East Timor is estimated at between 60% and 80% and, according to UN figures, more than half of its 800,000 people exist on less than 50 cents per day.

Authorities clarified that police, who used tear gas and truncheons to disperse the demonstrators in Dili Tuesday, did not fire rubber bullets as first reported.


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