Subject: LUSA: Police, defense force cooperation vital for stabil =?i

East Timor: Police, defense force cooperation vital for stability - Gusmão

Dili, May 20 (Lusa) - On the last day that United Nations peacekeepers formally guaranteed the security of East Timor, President Xanana Gusmão urged the new nation's police and defense forces to be models of discipline and cooperate more with each other.

Speaking Friday at a ceremony marking Timor's third anniversary of independence, Gusmão said the nation's stability and security depended on its separate police and defense force working closely together and "with more professionalism".

Rivalry between the two forces, now solely responsible for national security after the pullout of UN peacekeepers, erupted into violence twice during the last 18 months but was quickly brought under control by the Dili authorities.

A UN mission once numbering over 11,000 people has been reduced to 130 administrators and a small team of advisers for another 12 months, despite calls by Secretary-General Kofi Annan for the world body to keep a small peacekeeping unit in Timor.

The fact the UN's peacekeeping mission has been replaced with a political one, said Gusmão, means that Timor is living in peace, but this situation now demands "more effort, commitment and work than before" from the Timorese people.

Timor's independence in 2002 followed a brutal 24-year Indonesian occupation and nearly three years under a transition UN administration.

Earlier Friday, tens of thousands of government supporters gathered in Dili to mark the 31st anniversary of the foundation of the ruling FRETILIN party in festivities that coincided with the independence festivities.

Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, FRETILIN's leader, called to party members for political tolerance, but described the massive turnout drawn from across the country as a response to those who questioned his party's grassroots strength.

Alkatiri, in comments to Lusa, denied FRETILIN was trying to outdo the influential Catholic Church that recently mobilized several thousand anti-government demonstrators for three-weeks in non-stop protests in Dili.

FRETILIN was formally organized as a pro-independence movement from Portugal in September 1974, but Friday's celebrations mark the creation of the party's precursor, the Timorese Social Democratic Association, on May 20, 1974.


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