Subject: LUSA: Sacked minister assumes responsibility for crisis, police collapse

01-06-2006 13:18:00. Fonte LUSA. Notícia SIR-8043016 Temas:

East Timor: Sacked minister assumes responsibility for crisis, police collapse

Lisbon, June 1 (Lusa) - East Timor's sacked interior minister, Regério Lobato, said Thursday that he had "resigned" because he felt politically responsible for the country's crisis, especially the disintegration of the police force.

"As interior minister, the one with political responsibility, I must accept responsibility. This is why I resigned", Lobato told Lusa in Lisbon by telephone.

Lobato said he felt responsible for the general crisis of instability and violence, but especially the bloody clash last Thursday between government soldiers and police in Dili that left 10 policemen dead and 27 wounded, including two UN officers.

That clash helped spark the wave of continuing communal violence in the capital.

"This incident would not have happened if the commander-general of police (Superintendent Paulo Martins) had been here and in coordination with the armed forces command", Lobato said, terming the week-old clash as a "massacre".

Describing the national police as a "very fragile institution", the outgoing interior minister said the force disintegrated at the top with "the disarticulation of the general-command", noting that in the countryside district police commands remained "untouched" by the crisis in the capital.

Last Thursday, as tensions and violence mounted in and around Dili, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri told Lusa he had not seen or been able to contact the police commander in two days.

"I can't say on which side he is at this moment", Alkatiri said at the time, referring to a series of attacks over two days by dissident soldiers against army positions around the capital.

A government source told Lusa last week that Martins had last been seen last Tuesday, leaving the city with "men and weapons".

Martins has not been heard from since then and it was not clear whether he has joined up with military dissidents in the mountains who demand Alkatiri's ouster.



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