Subject: AKI: Horta Flouting Constitution Say Interim Premier


Dili, 30 April (AKI) - East Timor interim premier Estanislau Da Silva has accused prime minister and presidential candidate Jose Ramos Horta of having shown contempt for the country's institutions when he unilaterally called off the hunt for renegade general Alfredo Reinado. In an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI), Da Silva said that East Timor does not need a president who does not respect the constitution. He is mandated to run the country until the government is sworn in.

"Security is the joint responsibility of all three organs of sovereignty. Horta should learn to show more respect for institutional channels before making public comments and commitments,"" Da Silva told AKI on Monday.

"There has been no official change in the position of the East Timor State and no recommendation has been received from the recent meeting of the High-Level Coordination Commission," added Da Silva, regarding the hunt for Reinado - a fugitive for some eight months.

The High Level Coordination Commission includes members of all three state institutions responsible for security, the president, the parliament speaker and the prime minister, plus the deputy prime minister and the UN Special Representative. The commanders of national Army and the International Stabilisation Forces (ISF) are also invited to these meetings.

Australian Brigadier Mal Rerden, chief of the ISF, confirmed that there has not been any official change of order concerning the status of Reinado as wanted.

"We haven't received any formal letter from the government. If the government thinks this is the best solution, then the government and the ISF should discuss this," he told AKI.

Da Silva and Rerden's comments follow East Timor parliament speaker and presidential candidate, Francisco "Lu-Olo" Guterres' accusation that Horta is using Reinado and the ISF for his own electoral advantage.

Guterres accused Horta of having called off the hunt for Reinado as part of a deal to secure the Democratic Party votes for the presidential run-off to be held on 9 May.

"Five Timorese died in the recent action to bring Reinado to justice. Australian soldiers put their lives at risk, and Timorese villagers in the areas where Reinado was hiding were placed under extreme duress," Guterres told the media during the weekend.

"But now Horta has tried to call the action off, because Reinado's capture will damage his chances of being elected president. This is totally unacceptable. Horta has no power under the constitution to act on such matters act unilaterally, either as prime minister or as as president," he added.

Guterres received 28 percent of votes in the first round of the presidential election compared with Ramos Horta's 22. Votes from the third-placed candidate, Ferdinand Araujo Lasama of the Democratic Party, who polled 19 percent, are deemed to be crucial in the run-off next week.

The election of a new president to replace independence hero Xanana Gusmao is seen as an important test for the young nation after last year's violent upheaval that left scores dead and forced more than 150,000 people from their homes.

Lasama polled best in the western districts, where Reinado enjoys most support. According to local sources, Lasama made the end of the operation against Reinado a condition of his agreement to support Horta. Horta made a public call to end the hunt for Reinado on 23 April, four days before he and Lasama signed an accord.

Reinado has been on the run since he escaped from jail in East Timor's capital Dili in August along with 50 other inmates. President Xanana Gusmao ordered his arrest after he was accused of raiding a police post and stealing 25 automatic weapons last month.

The rebel leader had been arrested for his role in the violence that erupted in East Timor last April after the dismissal of approximately 600 soldiers, who were complaining of ethnic discrimination over promotions. Reinado abandoned the army and joined them on 4 May, 2006.

The clashes in East Timor left 37 people dead, forced 155,000 to flee their homes, brought down the government of former prime minister Mari Alkatiri, and resulted in Australian-led peacekeeping troops being deployed in the tiny Southeast Asian nation.

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