Subject: LUSA: PM Alkatiri rejects President's demand he sack Interior Minister

02-12-2002 14:25:00. Notícia nº 4402579...

East Timor: PM Alkatiri rejects President's demand he sack Interior Minister

Dili, Dec. 2 (Lusa) - East Timorese Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri has rejected President Xanana Gusmao's demand that he sack Interior Minister Rogério Lobato, saying his cabinet is characterized by "solidarity and cohesion".

"Our government was formed for five years, not six months", Alkatiri told Lusa Saturday in response to Gusmao's demand. "If some minister shows a lack of competence it is up to the Council of Ministers to make the evaluation, and ultimately, I am responsible for the government".

He said his decision to ignore Gusmao's demand, made in a speech Thursday, was "absolute".

In calling for Lobato's dismissal, Gusmao charged him with "incompetence and negligence", an apparent reference to recent clashes between mobs and police.

In parliament Monday, the leader of the small KOTA party expressed its support for the president's demand.

Manuel Tilman said Lobato should be dismissed "immediately" because "people beat up police and police beat up people and there is instability in the whole country".

Observers have suggested that the recent rash of violence directed against police might have been sparked by Lobato's call for police recruitment to favor former nationalist fighters.

The current UN-led policy has been one of selecting officers with experience under Indonesian rule.

ASP/SAS -Lusa-

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