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  • » 05/29/2006, 00.00


    Increasing calls for the prime minister's resignation

    In Dili hundreds of people are demonstrating against Prime Minister Alkatiri. The Catholic Church calls for a new government. Political leaders are in emergency meetings, whilst armed gangs are still ransacking the capital.

    Dili (AsiaNews) – Chaos still prevails in Dili, where clashes in the past week left at least 11 people dead. Rebel soldiers are lying in wait in the hills around the capital as armed gangs are still roaming the streets, burning homes and ransacking stores. More and more people are calling for Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri's resignation.

    The Church is also in favour of changes in the political leadership of this predominantly Catholic country. Mgr Alberto Ricardo da Silva, Dili's bishop, is quoted by ABC that the only solution is to remove the current government, which is responsible for the protests by 600 soldiers that led to the violence.

    Hundreds of people are also demonstrating in front of the presidential palace against Alkatiri, who has been accused of corruption. He is also chided for not having taken part in the struggle for independence.

    In addition to popular dissatisfaction, the government is showing signs of divisions. Leading the opposition are Foreign Minister José Ramos Horta and President Xanana Gusmao, the former guerrilla leader who for 25 years led the struggle against Indonesian occupation

    The cabinet is holed up in emergency meetings and some observers believe that leaders are trying to find ways to constitutionally remove Alkatiri.

    For the first time since the crisis broke out, President Gusmao appeared in public today to order the rival groups to stop the destruction and go home.

    He urged the two main groups, who are drawn from two distinct ethnic groups, one from the east and the other from the west of the country, to stop fighting and reach peace for the good of the country.

    Foreign troops called in by the government are having a hard time to restore order in the capital. Their numbers have now reached 2,200 including soldiers from New Zealand, Malaysia and Portugal.

    Australia, the first outside power to intervene, said that foreign troops might stay for a year, until elections in May of next year.

    UN special envoy Ian Martin is expected to arrive today.

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    See also

    12/04/2007 EAST TIMOR
    Presidential elections: some candidates complain of irregularities as the country prepares for a two
    Five candidates call for a halt to vote counting until the process can be secured with other observers present. According to partial results Horta and Guterres should square off next May 8.

    06/04/2007 EAST TIMOR
    Election campaign ends as East Timorese get set to go to the poll to pick next president
    Calm returns to the country after factional clashes. Presidential elections will take place next Monday. Nobel Prize winner Ramos Horta and Fretilin leader Francisco Guterres are favoured. Catholic Church tells faithful to choose “with conscience” and unexpectedly picks a former student activist, Fernando 'Lasama' de Araujo, as its choice.

    31/05/2006 VATICAN – EAST TIMOR
    Pope stands by Church in East Timor, appeals for peace
    In Dili, where people are still fleeing, the situation is critical. According to the UN, the number of displaced people has topped 100,000. Many are sheltering in churches, convents and schools. Refuge camps have been set up around the capital.

    08/07/2010 EAST TIMOR– AUSTRALIA
    Australia to dump Oceania’s refugees on East Timor
    Australia’s new prime minister wants to build a large refugee-processing centre in the poor Southeast Asian nation. In 2009, Oceania had 38,200 refugees, 22,000 in Australia. The opposition in Canberra calls the PM’s idea a disconcerting proposal and an embarrassing mistake.

    14/06/2006 EAST TIMOR
    Lull in unrest in Dili as government calls for UN intervention
    More stores open and people take to the streets, but violence still lurks just around the corner. The United Nations is ready to send a mission like in 1999 when it helped the country prepare for independence. East Timorese president goes before parliament and delivers a speech televised to the nation.

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