Subject: Mass East Timor rally calls for PM to step down [+Gang leaders targeted]

Also Ombudsman to investigate police massacre

Agence France-Presse June 6, 2006

Mass East Timor rally calls for PM to step down

Around 1,000 people in trucks and on motorcycles have converged outside the offices of unpopular East Timorese Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri to demand his resignation.

More than 40 trucks carrying around 20 people each plus hundreds more on motorcycles reached the government offices on the Dili waterfront escorted by a convoy of Malaysian peacekeeping troops.

"Bring down Alkatiri," shouted protesters from trucks draped in banners, one saying, "Dissolve the government of Alkatiri."

Earlier, the head of country's parlament, Fransisco Guterres, issued an order for rebel soldiers to hand in their weapons in 48 hours.

East Timor plunged into chaos when the premier in April fired 600 soldiers, nearly half the tiny nation's army, after they complained of discrimination because they came from the country's west.

"The eastern and western districts together bring down Alkatiri. If he doesn't resign war will not end," read a banner on another truck as it headed into the capital.

Some 21 people died last month as sporadic battles between rival soldiers unleashed a wave of lawlessness that descended into gang clashes and led the government to appeal for foreign help.

More than 2,000 combat-ready foreign peacekeepers, chiefly from Australia, are deployed in Dili.

Despite Alkatiri being largely blamed for the unrest, which continued Tuesday with the burning of more buildings, the popular president of the tiny nation, Xanana Gusmao, has so far refused to sack his embattled prime minister.

"The most important thing is that Mari (Alkatiri) must resign and take responsibility for all that he has done," Augusto Junior, one of the rally organisers, told AFP.

After the rally reached the government officers its leader Augusto Araujo Taro met Gusmao in his office to explain the demonstrators' demands.

Junior explained that the rally leader was a friend of Major Alfredo Reinado, who says he is in command of the 600 soldiers sacked by the prime minister last month.

Reinado is holed up in the mountain town of Maubisse, but has pledged his loyalty to Gusmao and says he will disarm when asked to by the international peacekeeping force.


ABC Asia Pacific

Last Updated 5/06/2006 8:28:00 PM

TIMOR: Ombudsman to investigate police massacre

There appears to be little in the way of co-ordination between organisations investigating the worst violence in East Timor since the troubles began. Just who was responsible for the massacre of 12 unarmed police as they moved to surrender to soldiers after a gun battle at the UN headquarters in Dili on May the 25th remains unresolved. The Australian Federal Police is playing a role in evidence gathering but they are yet to contact East Timor's Ombudsman who is heading an investigation into the attack.


Presenter/Interviewer: Karon Snowdon Speakers: Sebastio Ximenes, East Timor Ombudsman for Human Rights and Justice

SNOWDON: The worst attack so far in the break down of law and order came after a lengthy siege at the UN headquarters in Dili when soldiers gunned down unarmed rebel police who were surrendering under the protection of the United Nations.

12 East Timorese police died and 30 were injured, including two UN staffers. A spokesperson for the Australian Federal Police has confirmed it is not conducting its own investigation into the incident.

The members of the AFP who rushed to Dilli shortly after the attack near U-N headquarters are quote, "taking a leading role in collecting evidence and in maintaining the integrity of the crime scene", according to an AFP spokesman.

The AFP and the man who IS investigating the attack are yet to have a meeting.

East Timor's Ombudsman for Human Rights and Justice Sebastio Ximenes says his own investigation has stalled because most of his 12 staff have stayed away since the outbreak of the violence.

He says he's impatient to start again and to also complete his probe into the five deaths in April during the demonstration by rebel army personnel which sparked much of today's crisis.

XIMENES: At the moment we have just five staff but we have already operated the office. Until now we have always pened this office even we have only five staff in here.

SNOWDON: Are you intending to continue your investigation, will this be a separate investigtion?

XIMENES: Yes we will continue to make an investigation separate from other institutions, because you know this office is an independnet institutiion, so we make an investigation separate from other institutions.

SNOWDON: The Ombudsman says he's not aware of any investigation by the AFP

XIMENES: Because I've not yet met with them so I don't know if they have conducted the investigation. I have an intention to meet with them and maybe to discuss how to conduct the investigation or maybe to cooperate with our investigation.

SNOWDON: Mr Ximenes says he received on Saturday a copy of a substantial report made for President Gusmao by one of the police survivors of the May 25th shooting who remains in hospital. The Ombudsman says he expects no problems with access to UN police and staff who may be able to provide information.

XIMENES: Yeah I hope that because we have our own investigation, we hope for good cooperation from others, from police or people that know about the case.

SNOWDON: The United Nations in East Timor was put on the back foot after media reports emerged that it advised its staff to not participate in what has been called an Australian-led investigation of last month's shooting. A UN spokeswoman says the reports are incorrect.

She says an email was sent to staff from the Deputy UN representative Anis Bajwa warning against commenting before the UN had received notification an official investigation was underway and they had received authorisation.

She added UN staff woudl fully cooperate with an official investigation.

The UN Secretary General's Special Envoy Ian Martin is also in Dili to assess the political situation.

Ian Martin was the special UN representative who oversaw the referendum in 1999 leading to East Timor's independence from Indonesia.He is yet to comment this time around and was not availble for an interview.

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