Subject: Lusa: East Timor: Army, police march together in show of unity

East Timor: Army, police march together in show of unity

Dili, Nov. 15 (Lusa) - Around 600 members of East Timor's army and police force paraded Wednesday outside Dili's Government Palace in an initiative aimed to demonstrate "unity and solidarity" between the two branches of the new nation's security forces, officials said.

Among those witnessing the joint march-past of defense force and police units were President Xanana Gusmão, Prime Minister Jose Ramos Horta and speaker of Parliament, Francisco Guterres, in addition to Dili-based foreign diplomats.

Fighting between rival army and police factions in April and May this year catapulted Timor into violence and bloodshed that left over 50 people dead and up to 180,000 Timorese displaced.

The fledgling state's slide into disorder forced the resignation of Prime Minister Ramos Horta's predecessor, Mari Alkatiri, and the ensuing widespread communal clashes were only quelled after the arrival of international peacekeepers.

Wednesday's show of unity between Timorese troops and police comes on the heels of talks two weeks ago between the commanders of the forces and Dili's heads of state and government at President Gusmão's private residence at Balibar, 20 kms from Dili.

Attempts by the Dili authorities to cement reconciliation between the army and police force, both in the process of being retrained, come at the same time as an ongoing peace rally by young Timorese from various ethnic backgrounds.

Several hundred Timorese youths marched though Dili Tuesday, calling for reconciliation and unity, in a second day of peace rallies that began Sunday on the anniversary of the Santa Cruz massacre in 1991, when over 250 young people were killed by occupying Indonesian troops.

Welcoming the peace initiative between youths from the Loromonu and Lorosae ethnic groups, from the west and east of Timor respectively, Ramos Horta said Tuesday that "peace is breaking out in Timor". (Lusa)


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