Subject: Lusa: Solution for army crisis expected 'very soon', says official

East Timor: Solution for army crisis expected 'very soon', says official

Dili, April 13 (Lusa) - The East Timorese government will continue to pay nearly 600 soldiers dismissed from its tiny army for insubordination until a solution is found for the crisis, an official linked to the process said Thursday.

The official, who asked to remain unidentified, told Lusa the decision to continue the payments was taken at a meeting between President Xanana Gusmão and Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri Wednesday.

Gusmão and Alkatiri, he added, also decided to continue the work of an inquiry commission set up to investigate complaints by the 594 dismissed soldiers who went AWOL and held protests in February over alleged regional discrimination in the Defense Force.

The disgruntled troops, considered demobilized since March 1, represent more than 40% of the fledgling army.

Their complaints of discrimination served as a backdrop for several days of disturbances in some Dili neighborhoods late last month.

The official, who predicted a solution for the crisis would be found "very soon", also said that an outdoor Easter mass Sunday in the predominantly Roman Catholic country was being prepared in the heavily Roman Catholic country to bring together all parties in the dispute.

Some 2,000 people, including the wayward troops, were expected to attend the mass, dubbed "Day of Reflection", at the army's Metinaro instruction center outside the capital, the official said.

The mass will be celebrated by Dili's Bishop Alberto Ricardo.



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