Subject: AFP: Party leaders visit former ETimor minister in jail

Agence France Presse

May 17, 2007

Party leaders visit former ETimor minister in jail

DILI, May 17 2007

Leaders of East Timor's ruling political party Thursday visited a former cabinet minister jailed for weapons offences.

Fretilin party president Francisco Guterres visited former home affairs minister Rogerio Lobato, who began his jail sentence last week after losing an appeal against his conviction for distributing weapons to civilians during last year's deadly unrest.

Guterres, who was accompanied by former prime minister Mari Alkatiri and other party leaders, said Lobato was in good health.

"Our comrade has shown that he is a good citizen by coming to this jail," he told journalists, adding that Lobato's position as deputy president of the party would be discussed at a party meeting on Saturday.

Alkatiri was forced to resign as premier over his role in the May unrest.

At least 37 people were killed in the violence that gripped East Timor, forcing 150,000 people to flee their homes.

Incoming president Jose Ramos-Horta has pledged to unite the country and help restore security after winning this month's presidential election.

He won as an independent candidate against former freedom fighter Guterres.

Lobato was one of the founders of Fretilin, formed as a resistance movement against Indonesia's 24-year occupation of East Timor until its vote for independence in 1999.

Fretilin has dominated the fledgling nation's parliament since it gained independence in 2002, three years after the UN-sponsored vote.

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