Tension remains high in East Timor, mainly in the capital Dili, where a military
operation was launched by an Australian-led international force few days ago:
it's a hunt for rebel leader Alfredo Reinado, who's suspected to have raid a local
police post, stealing a large haul of weapons. Four of the fugitive's supporters
were killed when the troops attacked their stronghold.
Towards a state of emergency.
The attempt to capture rebel Alfredo, who's strongly supported by East Timor
population, has caused brutal protest demonstrations: thousands of people have
fled Dili in the violence, shouting slogans against International Forces, president
Xanana Gusmao and long-life whishes for Reinado. In his latest TV speech, Gusmao
has threatened to impose a state of emergency to stop an outbreak of civil unrest:
"This country is standing an anarchy situation caused by rebel segments of society.
I refuse to accept this insecurity conditions and I'm ready to declare a state
of emergency." But violence goes on: stones against international staff's cars,
tyres and houses on fire. Helicopters are patrolling the city, night and day.
And there's a cheeky support banner for Alfredo Reinado that was put in front
of the main cathedral by the local population.
Alfredo, the people's protector .
"We'll use our weapons to protect East Timor people and their needs but we won't
save from harm any authority." That was the rebel leader's answer, after the government's
surrender request. He was also promised an impartial trial. During his press conference
on Mar.4th, special representative of the UN General-Secretary Mr. Khare declared:
"I've always believed that justice is vital for reconciliation. East Timor authorities
share my opinion too, impunity must not prevail." In the meantime, Indonesia has
temporarily closed his borders with East Timor in order to prevent Reinado from
crossing them. Australia is pulling non-essential staff and functionaries' family
members out of the country: this is probably the last step towards a definitive
The sentence fof Lobato. The final sentence for Rogerio Lobato, ex minister of internal affairs who was
prosecuted for illegal distribution of weapons to a group of civilians, is scheduled
for tomorrow: he's always been appreciated by East Timor population so the situation
might become even more critical.