Dili (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The rebel leader accused of the February assassination attempt on the life of East Timor’s president Ramos-Horta, has surrendered. Gastao Salsinha and 11 of his men have handed themselves in to deputy Prime Minister, Jose Luis Guterres, in government buildings in the capital Dili.
"A historic moment for East Timor and its people” is how Guterres commented the event. The rebels surrender has opened a new chapter of hope that after years, the young nation may now enjoy stability. The decision to surrender has followed days of intense negotiation with authorities in Ermera, a district 75 km west of the capital. Present at the rebels surrender along with the president, the head of the UN’s mission on the island, Atul Khare. The premier, Xanana Gusmao, who escaped unharmed from the February attack, is currently on a state visit to Indonesia.
Salsinha, had led the rebels in the wake of the death of former chief Alfredo Reinado, who was killed during the 11th February attack on Ramos-Horta; seriously injured, the Head of State returned to his homeland at the beginning of April, after months of care in an Australian clinic.
The rebel group, all ex soldiers, was formed in 2006, after the then Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, ordered that 600 soldiers, who were striking against discrimination in the ranks of the army, be fired. The revolt led to over 30 deaths in Dili and the surrounding areas.