Subject: AFP: East Timor troops find gun, cash in Fretilin cars: Ramos-Horta

East Timor troops find gun, cash in Fretilin cars: Ramos-Horta

Dili - Foreign troops securing East Timor found a gun, other weapons and cash in a convoy of cars carrying ruling Fretilin party officials Wednesday, presidential candidate Jose Ramos-Horta claimed.

Ramos-Horta made the comments as the campaign intensified between the Nobel laureate and his opponent, Fretilin candidate Francisco Guterres, ahead of a second round of voting next week for president of the troubled country.

Ramos-Horta, currently the prime minister, said he had been briefed on the discovery by Brigadier Mal Rerden, the head of the Australian-led peacekeeping force that has been restoring security in East Timor for almost a year.

He told reporters that Justice Minister Dominggos Sarmento was in one of the cars, which were all heading to a Fretilin campaign rally.

"The ISF (International Stability Force) was doing their job, manning a checkpoint before a Fretilin rally, and in one of the cars an automatic firearm was found," Ramos-Horta said.

Another car was found with 5,000 dollars in cash, he said, adding that arrows and slingshots were also found. He said Sarmento told the troops that the money was to be used for ministerial projects.

Sarmento and Brigadier Rerden could not immediately be contacted for comment on the claims.

Neither Ramos-Horta or Guterres won an absolute majority in the April 9 election for president, prompting the runoff next Wednesday.

The election is the first since impoverished East Timor won independence in 2002, following a bloody split from occupying Indonesian forces.

Several thousand peacekeepers have been patrolling the streets since unrest last year descended into gang violence that left 37 people dead and forced 150,000 more to flee their homes.

Ramos-Horta said he would seek clarification of the incident, in his capacity as prime minister, when official campaigning ended on May 7.

Agence France Presse


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