Subject: AFP: Bishop Belo tries to stop E Timor unrest


Bishop tries to stop E Timor unrest

From correspondents in Dili October 25, 2006

EAST Timor's Bishop Carlos Belo has reportedly held meetings with a rebel leader and key politicians named in a damning UN report on the country's violence to try to stop the ongoing unrest.

Bishop Belo flew by UN helicopter to a meeting yesterday with rebel leader Alfredo Reinado at a hill in Fohorem, Suai district on the southern coast, a source said today.

He was greeted by Reinado, who was wearing combat fatigues, and the two then held private discussions, the source said.

Reinado has been in hiding since he and more than 50 other inmates escaped in August from a prison in Dili, where he was detained following bloody violence which erupted in April and May.

After meeting Reinado, Bishop Belo headed for former prime minister Mari Alkatiri's home for brief talks, the source said.

He then went on to visit former home affairs minister Rogerio Lobato.

A UN report into the violence in East Timor in April and May earlier this month called for Mr Alkatiri, Mr Lobato and a series of senior government and security force members to be criminally investigated.

Mr Alkatiri stepped down as prime minister in June amid allegations that he had armed a hit squad and ordered it to kill his political opponents. He has maintained his innocence.

Dili was rocked by the unrest following the dismissal of soldiers who had deserted, complaining of discrimination from their superiors based on whether they came from the east or west of the country.

Some 37 people were killde in pitched battles between security forces during bloody street violence. More than 150,000 people fled their homes and some 3000 Australian-led peacekeepers were sent to restore calm.

The report cleared President Xanana Gusmao of ordering Reinado, then head of the military police who deserted just ahead of the May unrest, "to carry out criminal actions".

Bishop Belo, who shared a Nobel peace prize with now Prime Minister Jose Ramos Horta in 1996, arrived in Dili from Mozambique on October 18, and is due to leave on Saturday.

On his arrival, the bishop said he had come "to visit and provide you with hope and peace", and warned the people against being disunited.

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