Subject: AFP: East Timor wants demilitarised border with Indonesia, Gusmao

Agence France Presse

June 2, 2003 Monday

East Timor wants demilitarised border with Indonesia, Gusmao says

DILI, June 2

East Timor is training police not troops to guard its border with giant neighbour Indonesia because it wants a demilitarised frontier zone, President Xanana Gusmao said Monday.

"We want a demilitarised border with our neighbour Indonesia, so it will not be our armed forces but the BPU (police Border Patrol Unit) that will be on the frontiers," Gusmao said at a meeting on bolstering the fledgling police force.

Gunmen killed seven civilians in two separate attacks near the border with Indonesian West Timor in January and February. They were widely believed to be former pro-Jakarta militiamen trying to destabilise the new country, but not on orders from Indonesian authorities.

Gusmao said UN peacekeeping troops are due to pull back from the border at the end of this month. The entire UN mission will leave at the end of May next year.

The president said the police force established in August 2000, "as some of the events of late last year demonstrated, is still a very fragile institution indeed."

Police opened fire during riots in Dili last December, in which two people died and many buildings were damaged. Some observers accused them of over-reacting.

Gusmao said a Rapid Intervention Unit, being formed to handle riots in urban areas, must show restraint.

cannot be acceptable in such situations, no matter how grave the provocation," he said.

He said a Rapid Deployment Service would also be set up to counter criminal gangs or armed groups in rural areas.

East Timor voted in August 1999 to break away from Indonesia despite a bloody campaign of intimidation by militias backed by the Indonesian army. After 31 months of UN stewardship it became independent on May 20, 2002.

Gusmao has made reconciliation with Indonesia a priority since then.


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