Subject: AGE: Reinado sends voting advice from East Timor hideaway

The Age

Reinado sends voting advice from East Timor hideaway

Lindsay Murdoch, Darwin

March 27, 2007

FUGITIVE rebel leader Alfredo Reinado has again humiliated Australian troops hunting him in East Timor's mountains, this time releasing a letter telling his supporters how they should vote in presidential elections.

In the letter, Reinado urged his supporters not to vote for Prime Minister Jose Ramos Horta, saying his government had failed since he took charge amid violent upheaval last June.

Reinado, the former head of East Timor's military police who has been hunted since a botched attack on his base by Australian soldiers on March 4, also told his supporters not to back former guerilla fighter Francisco Guterres, the candidate of the ruling party Fretilin. He said Mr Guterres had failed as president of East Timor's Parliament.

Australian troops have been unable to find the swaggering rebel in the country's central mountains, despite the fact he has met several media groups, including a team from ABC's Foreign Correspondent program.

United Nations officials have warned that Reinado, a cult hero to many Timorese, poses a series threat to the presidential elections set for April 9. But in the letter given to a journalist from the Timor Post newspaper last weekend, 39-year-old Reinado said he had no intention of disrupting the election.

Eight candidates have nominated to replace President Xanana Gusmao, who plans to nominate for the more powerful prime ministership at general elections midyear.

Reinado said he looked forward to dealing with the new president.

Last month Mr Gusmao ordered that Reinado be hunted down after he and a group of heavily armed men raided a police border post and seized high-powered weapons.

Reinado, who fired the first shots in violence that plunged East Timor into crisis, has been on the run since he led a mass escape from Dili's main jail last August. He is wanted on charges of murder and rebellion.

The election will be the first since East Timor achieved independence in 2002. Mr Ramos Horta, the most high-profile candidate, has promised to liberalise investment laws, boost ties with Australia and Indonesia and improve the lives of the country's mostly impoverished people.

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