Subject: East Timor leader apologises for govt mistakes

Agence France-Presse November 18, 2006

East Timor leader apologises for govt mistakes

DILI (AFP) - East Timor President Xanana Gusmao has apologised for the violence that has rocked the nation over the past six months, saying his government had made "mistakes".

Speaking at the presidential palace in Dili late Friday, Gusmao called for reconciliation.

"I humbly apologise to the people ... in the past six months the people have been suffering, living in fear and tears," Gusmao said.

Factions within the military and police force were involved in violence that rocked Dili and surrounding towns in April and May, leaving at least 37 people dead.

The violence followed the dismissal of almost a third of the armed forces by then prime minister Mari Alkatiri.

"We know that we were wrong. Our mistakes spread and affected all of you -- old people, adults and children. Our mistakes also spread to the armed forces," Gusmao said.

Gusmao, a hero of the nation's bloody fight for independence, said it was time to set aside differences and to "be brave and forgive each other."

Last week at least four people were killed in fresh violence.

The incident came after Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta praised a peace rally held by hundreds of East Timorese youths on Monday, including members of rival gangs who fought each other in the capital earlier this year.

The April bloodshed forced the deployment of 3,200 Australian-led peacekeepers to restore calm. Their numbers have since been reduced to 1,100, bolstered by the presence of about 1,000 UN police.

------------------------------------------ Joyo Indonesia News Service

Back to November menu
World Leaders Contact List
Main Postings Menu