Subject: AKI: Renegade soldier open to political career

East Timor: Renegade soldier open to political career

East Timor's army rebel leader Alfredo Reinado has been on the run since he escaped from a Dili prison in August 2006.

Dili, 14 Sept. (AKI) - East Timor's fugitive army rebel Alfredo Reinado, the leader of over 600 fighters who have taken refuge in the tiny Southeast Asian country's western provinces, does not rule out a future in politics.

"Politics is not my dream," Reinado was quoted as saying in the latest edition of defence magazine, Jane's Intelligence Review. "I am a soldier and I want to serve the population, but if the people think that I can become a politician, I will take under consideration this possibility," he said.

"In any case, at the moment I don't see myself anywhere near such a decision," he added.

Renado is a former military officer who has been a fugitive since August 2006, after he escaped from a jail in the East Timorese capital, Dili, together with 50 other fighters.

Most of them had been arrested for their involvement in the street clashes that hit East Timor in May 2006 in which more than 20 people were killed and thousands were forced to flee their homes.

The violence began after about 600 soldiers were sacked in April by then prime minister Mari Alkatiri. The soldiers had gone on strike calling for better working conditions and to protest against what they described as favouritism in promotions.

According to local media reports, East Timor's president Jose Ramos-Horta and new prime minister Xanana Gusmao have opened the channels of direct communication with Reinado and are looking for a way to resolve the situation peacefully.

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