East Timor: dialogue with rebels

East Timor Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta met with a rebel representative April 19 to discuss an end to a military operations against a fugitive army defector. Leandro Isaac, who abandoned his seat in parliament to join former army major Alfredo Reinado in the mountains of Manufahi district, said he asked Ramos-Horta to end operations against Reinado and his supporters. “People’s fundamental rights have disappeared since the operation began,” Isaac said. “We asked the prime minister to establish calm and peace in Manufahi. Law and order should be implemented.”

Ramos-Horta said he had decided to opt for talks with Reinado because the rebel did not disrupt the April 9 presidential elections. Ramos-Horta was one of eight candidates in that vote, and will face the Fretilin party candidate, Francisco Guterres, in a run-off May 8. Ramos-Horta became prime minister when his predecessor, Mari Alkatiri, quit after receiving much of the blame for last year’s violence. (Reuters, April 19)

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