Subject: LUSA: Mutinous troops will be punished, says PM Alkatiri

22-02-2006 9:24:00. Fonte LUSA. Notícia SIR-7761144 Temas:

East Timor: Mutinous troops will be punished, says PM Alkatiri

Dili, Feb. 22 (Lusa) - A group of about 350 troops in East Timor who remain AWOL in a dispute with military and civil authorities will be disciplined for their actions, which do not constitute a threat to national stability, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri said Wednesday.

Many of the rebel soldiers in the East Timor Defense Force (FDTL) are ex-members of the Fretilin resistance who "are not used to the discipline of a regular military force", noted Alkatiri.

"We have to acknowledge some neglect on the part of the government and the FDTL high command in their training and the creation of conditions to make them feel useful in peacetime".

Alaktiri added that the Dili authorities would have to review and possibly alter the structure and objectives of the new nation's fledgling Armed Forces.

The mutinous troops had mounted their protest against alleged discrimination and other grievances over working conditions Feb. 8 when they assembled next to the presidential palace in Dili.

About 25% of a total 1,800 FDTL troops were involved in the initial revolt and the force's commander, Gen. Taur Matan Ruak, told Lusa this week that 350 troops were still "self-excluded" from active service.

Timor's military still lacks a full disciplinary code, permanent barracks and bases and a national defense policy remains to be defined in the world's newest nation.

Prime Minister Alaktiri said last week that it was crucial to find a peacetime role for Timor's Armed Forces, other than training exercises, and said he would seek assistance from Portugal to make the force "more professional".



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