Subject: AKI: Peacekeepers Here To Relax Says Parliament Speaker


Dili, 24 Jan. (AKI) - The president of the East Timor National Parliament Francisco "Lu-Olo" Guterres said that he is starting to question the presence of the international forces and the UN Police (UNPOL) officers in East Timor, as they seem more concerned about holidaying than responding to the crisis situation. In an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI), he stated that maybe the local police should take over.

"People told us [the Parliament] that security in Dili is at a minimum because the international forces and UNPOL spend their time at the beach, rather than performing their duties," Guterres told Adnkronos International on Wednesday. "If the situation does not change, maybe it is better for them [the international forces] to hand the security responsibilities to the national police,' he added.

Guterres said that the international forces should take a strong stand against the martial arts gangs, which are seen at the core of the latest violence.

"After the political and military crisis of last year, it is now the members of the martial art groups that make our people suffer," he said.

An outbreak of violence in Dili in May 2006 saw 37 killed when clashes between security force factions degenerated into street violence and forced former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri to resign. He was replaced in July by Jose Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Peace Prize winner. Moreover, the unrest prompted the former Portuguese colony to seek the deployment of foreign peacekeepers and UN police.

However, sporadic violence has continued in a changed scenario that has seen, more and more often, street gangs and rival martial art schools pitted against each other. More people have been killed in Dili, the country's capital, and surrounding districts, in the last few months, including four more deaths since Sunday.


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