Subject: LUSA: Change of PM welcome but not remedy for crisis - Bishop Nascimento

East Timor: Change of PM welcome but not remedy for crisis - Bishop Nascimento

Porto, Portugal, June 7 (Lusa) - The Catholic bishop of East Timor's second largest city indicated Wednesday he would welcome a change of government leadership in Dili but said it would be insufficient to resolve the country's crisis.

A solution "doesn't depend solely on the resignation of the prime minister and elections", Bishop Basílio do Nascimento said, adding that an exit from government by Mari Alkatiri might help end the current wave of violence but would likely be insufficient to resolve Timor's underlying social and economic crisis.

The Bishop of Baucau, speaking at a fund raising event in the northern Portuguese city of Porto, said José Ramos Horta, Dili's foreign and defense minister, could be a "very good" replacement for Alkatiri but that there were other "cabinet members" who could also "assume the post".

Alkatiri, whose resignation has been insistently demanded in recent weeks by Timorese opposition leaders and dissident army officers, has repeatedly said he would not step down.

Ramos Horta, interviewed Wednesday by Portugal's Catholic Rádio Renascença, said he would be willing to serve as prime minister if Alkatiri resigned.

"In the event the prime minister resigns, so long as it occurs in a constitutional and democratic framework, I would obviously accept any responsibility", Ramos Horta said when asked if would accept the post.

Do Nascimento, who arrived in Portugal last week for medical examinations, said the outbreak of lawlessness in Dili was due to much more than recent dissent and divisions within the military.

The immediate crisis, "near civil war", he said, lay with broad, longstanding "dissatisfaction" with the prime minister over the country's "lack of work, money and bread".

Portuguese Foreign Minister Diogo Freitas do Amaral will meet with the Timorese bishop in Lisbon Thursday.

Foreign Ministry spokesman António Carneiro Jacinto told Lusa the minister wanted to hear do Nascimento's views on the Timorese crisis.

The meeting at Necessidades Palace will be followed by a news conference, the spokesman said.



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