Alkatiri's allegation interpreted as "personal opinion"

Timor-Leste (East Timor) Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri's allegation about a "third party" being involved in the current unrest in Dili - which has been interpreted as a reference to Indonesia - was his personal opinion, a senior Timor-Leste official said in Dili on Wednesday.

"We are surprised to hear our premier's statement, and we can understand President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's reaction to it. The statement was (Alkatiri's) personal opinion, not public opinion in East Timor," said Dionisio Babo, the Timor-Leste

chairman of the Indonesia-East Timor Commission of Truth and Friendship (CTF).

"In our view, there is no indication of Indonesia's involvement (in the Dili unrest)," said Babo, who is also a member of the East Timor Security Advisory Council.

Babo made the comment to reporters after his arrival in Dili from Denpasar, Bali, where the CTF has its secretariat.

He was quoted by official news agency Antara as saying that he could understand President Susilo's reaction to Alkatiri's accusation.

Furthermore, he expressed the hope that political tension between the two countries caused by Alkatiri's statement could be reduced through efforts using diplomatic channels.

Previously, Timor-Leste Foreign Affairs Minister Jose Ramos Horta had also denied the accusation of third party involvement in the Dili unrest.

According to Benny Siagian, a secretary at the Indonesian embassy in Dili, Horta made the denial in a briefing of the diplomatic corps on June 2.

Earlier, on Monday, President Susilo ridiculed Mari Alkatiri for accusing Indonesia of being behind the current unrest in his country.

The President said Alkitiri had created a new problem in the relations between the two countries with his statement.

Prime Minister Alkatiri's statement contradicted Indonesia's goodwill and spirit to have good relations and cooperation with Timor-Leste, Susilo said.

On the other hand, the President thanked Timor-Leste President Xanana Gusmao and Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer who had denied the allegation that Indonesia was involved in the turmoil in Timor-Leste.

Meanwhile, in his latest statement on Tuesday, after receiving criticism at home as well as abroad, Alkatiri denied having named Indonesia as being the third party behind the bloody riots in Dili.

"The prime minister has never said that Indonesian was involved in the recent crisis in East Timor," a statement from Alkatiri's office said.

The statement also said that the prime minister had met with Indonesian ambassador to Timor-Leste Ahmad Bey Sofwan to clarify certain reports carried by some mass media in Indonesia," he said without elaboration.

Earlier, Alkatiri had alleged that some foreign elements were involved in the Dili riots two weeks ago in which 20 people died and he put the blame on Indonesian militiamen.

Indonesian militiamen and militarymen had been blamed for the death of 1,400 people after the UN supervised referendum.

The statement about Indonesian involvement was made by Alkariti without any evidence was carried by some Indonesian papers.

Meanwhile, the demand for Alkatiri to step down from his position got stronger.

Some 2,000 protesters rallied in Dili on Tuesday demanding the removal of Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, blaming him for the unrest that has left parts of the city in ruins and burning.

Protesters' spokesman Major Augusto de Araujo Tara read a petition calling on Gusmao to "disband the national parliament now and topple the Mari Alkatiri government."

The petition called for a transitional government in one of the world's youngest nations, led by Gusmao as military commander, to hold new parliamentary elections this month. Elections are not due until May 2007.

Timor-Leste has been rocked by violence since the government sacked 600 troops for protesting alleged discrimination in the army against soldiers from the country's western regions by mostly eastern officers.

The east-west divide in Timor-Leste's population of around 1 million first surfaced during the bloody referendum in 1999 on independence from Indonesia.

Although the two groups were ethnically and linguistically identical, westerners were seen as more pro-Indonesian and easterners more pro-independence.

In an effort to overcome the crisis, that has led to deployment of 2,500 foreign troops to Timor-Leste, President Xanana Gusmao took over the government's power over the police and military.

Timor-Leste became independent in 2002 after being run by the United Nations for two-and-a-half years after the referendum.

Source: Xinhua

People's Daily Online ---