terça-feira, 6 de março de 2007


Dili, 6 March (AKI) - The homes of President Xanana Gusmao's sisters have been attacked by protesters and rebels loyal to renegade Major Alfredo Alves Reinado in a sign of increased tension and polarisation among the country's population. In an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI), Quintiliano Barros, 26, a supporter of Reinado, threatened to kill Gusmao whom she slammed as a traitor.

"It is time for President Gusmao and his family to receive what they deserve after Gusmao’s decision to capture Major Alfredo,” said Quintiliano, whose younger brother, Deolindo, was killed during the raid against Reinado on Sunday.

“President Gusmao has no choice but to withdraw his order to arrest Major Alfredo. If he does not do it, his family will live in danger and if he walks without bodyguards we will kill him,” she added stressing that the president is now considered a “traitor.”

President Gusmao, the undisputed hero of East Timor’s fight for independence against Indonesia, ordered the arrest of Major Reinado last week, after months of talks aimed at bringing the rebel back into the fold peacefully. On Sunday, a raid conducted by Australian troops left four people dead while Reinado escaped.

The raid was followed by riots in Dili, the tiny country's capital, where young people chanted “Long live Alfredo.”

On Tuesday, the house of the president's sister, Armandina, an MP, was severely damaged during a protest by supporters of Reinado. Reports in Dili say the situation did not degenerate further thanks to the intervention of the Portuguese contingent within the United Nations paramilitary police.

The previous day, the president's younger sister Manuela's home was looted in the village of Vila Verde, on the outskirts of the city.

Gusmao enjoys a very large following in East Timor and the protests against his family risk further dividing the local population, bringing back the spectre of a civil war.

Reinado abandoned the army on 4 May 2006 to join approximately 600 former soldiers who had been dismissed two months before, after complaining of ethnic discrimination over promotions.

The sacking sparked nationwide clashes in a crisis that left 37 people dead, forced 155,000 to flee their homes, brought down the government of former prime minister Mari Alkatiri, and resulted in an Australia-led peacekeeping troops being deployed to the tiny Southeast Asian nation.

Reinado was arrested for his role in the violence and accused in connection with the murder of five people.

East Timor voted in a 1999 referendum for independence from Indonesia, which had annexed it after Portugal ended its colonial rule in 1975. The country became fully independent in 2002 after a period of United Nations administration.

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