|Subject: LUSA: Religious leader says crisis
08-06-2006 18:40:00. Fonte LUSA. Notícia SIR-8064833 Temas:
East Timor: Religious leader says crisis easing
Lisbon, June 8 (Lusa) - A leader of East Timor`s influential Roman Catholic Church said Thursday that he believes the situation in his battered nation shows signs of calming, also disputing that east- west ethnic rifts had sparked the wave of violence that has displaced over 100,000 people and left more than 20 dead.
Basílio do Nascimento, bishop of Timor's second city, Baucau, said after a meeting in Lisbon with Portuguese Foreign Minister Diogo Freitas do Amaral that he would not return immediately to Timor, as he had originally planned, due to an apparent improvement in the security situation in his country and more stable political scenarios.
Bishop Do Nascimento had arrived in Portugal last month for medical tests on the same day that 10 Timorese police officers lost their lives in an attack in Dili by rebel army troops.
As Timor's bloody unrest seemed to spiral unchecked a fortnight ago, he had told Lusa he was "very sad, worried and apprehensive" at the deadly breakdown in law and order in his country.
Various media and many observers have identified ethnic rivalry between "loromonu" westerners and "lorosae" easterners in Timor as being at the root of its recent slide into anarchy and the dispatch of over 2,000 international peacekeepers to restore order.
But Bishop Baucau said this theory was "news" to him, adding that there has been no concrete proof of ethnic tensions sparking mutiny by army troops earlier this year, nor any hard evidence that regional differences could have fuelled gang violence in Dili in recent weeks, as has been widely reported.
Timor's Catholic Church is playing a "discreet but active role" in the country's worst crisis since it became the world's newest state in 2002, said the prelate, adding that this tactful distancing of the church from politics "has not always been understood as such".
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