Subject: LUSA: Reconciliation among rival security forces 'not easy' - Ramos Horta

13-07-2006 12:54:00. Fonte LUSA. Notícia SIR-8168904 Temas:

East Timor: Reconciliation among rival security forces 'not easy' - Ramos Horta

Metinaro, East Timor, July 13 (Lusa) - Prime Minister José Ramos Horta met with rival army and police factions Thursday, urging them to dialogue and seek reconciliation to end East Timor's months-long crisis of violence and political turmoil.

After separate meetings at national police headquarters in Dili and at the army training center at Metinaro, however, Ramos Horta, acknowledged that reconciliation within and between the security forces would "not be easy".

He told hundreds of officers and soldiers at the two back-to- back meetings that President Xanana Gusmão was considering setting up a so-called National Dialogue Commission, under the aegis of the influential Catholic Church, to aid contacts between the factions that engaged in bloody clashes in April and May, triggering a spiral of communal violence in Dili.

The proposed commission, he added, would "seek solutions, some must be concrete, others must be handled by the justice system".

Echoing the freshly named prime minister's concerns, Dili's deputy police commander, Luís Saldanha, told Ramos Horta reconciliation was a "very beautiful thing" but that seeking it would end in "disaster" if the process was conducted by "politicians".

The grievances between army and police factions, Saldanha added, could only be overcome "through the courts, not through politics".

Despite the presence of 2,700 international peacekeepers, mostly Australians, but also including Portuguese police, fears of new violence were illustrated by the reluctance of soldiers at Metinaro, 40 kilometers east of Dili, to return to their homes in the capital.

Dili's collapse into weeks of violence began in late April when then-Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri ordered a bloody army crackdown against hundreds of disgruntled former soldiers who were demonstrating in Dili against alleged regional discrimination in the 1,500-strong military.

The crackdown further divided the army and imploded the police along communal lines, triggering fratricidal clashes and pitting gangs of eastern "lorosae" against western "loromuno" in rampages of looting and arson.

At least 37 people died and nearly 150,000 were displaced from their homes before the four-nation international peacekeeping force began arriving in late May.

Speaking to reporters in Metinaro, Ramos Horta said the future re-integration of army officers who broke with the hierarchy in May in opposition to Alkatiri depended on "dialogue" and on the findings of an UN-mandated commission of inquiry into the causes of the violence.

The three-member commission, led by Brazilian diplomat Sérgio Pinheiro, is expected to arrive later this month and to present a preliminary report in early October.

Ramos Horta, a political independent who served as foreign minister in Alkatiri's cabinet, blamed the violent crisis on "political decisions taken by us" in the outgoing government.

"We must begin a new era and rebuild this nation from ashes", said the prime minister, who earlier promised to unveil his new cabinet Friday.



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