- Title: EAST TIMOR: East Timorese set for presidential election despite security concerns
- Date: 12th April 2007
- Summary: SUPPORTERS CHEERING / LARGE BANNER IN BACKGROUND WITH PICTURE OF HORTA
- Embargoed: 27th April 2007 13:00
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA899TY6737RC13MLZRZ1T8VPM2
- Story Text: East Timor's President Xanana Gusmao on Thursday (April 5) blamed the Fretilin party of ousted Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri for violent clashes during election campaigning. The violence comes just four days before a scheduled presidential election on Monday (April 9).
Gusmao also warned of "a spiral of violence" if the party's candidate lost at the polls.
At least 30 people were injured on Wednesday (April 4) when rival party supporters threw rocks at each other during the last day of the campaign for the election.
"I can say that people are concerned about security. But now it is more clear that only one group was provoking all the violence before, because yesterday there were rallies by many many candidates and all the candidates suffer, suffer from Fretilin supporters," Gusmao said.
"The problem may be after the election when there is a result and we can see by the violence, that the leaders of the party can't even speak publicly asking their supporters to calm down, to be tolerant. I believe if their candidate loses it will spiral into violence. But everybody will know it is them," he added.
Fretilin led East Timor's struggle against Indonesian rule and is a dominant party in parliament.
Gusmao said East Timorese were still traumatised by last year's violence that left 30 people killed and warned of a further crisis if Fretilin presidential candidate Fransisco Guterres lost at the polls.
Fretilin's Guterres is a frontrunner among eight candidates running in Monday's election. The candidate with the highest profile is Jose Ramos-Horta who succeeded Alkatiri as prime minister and won a Nobel Peace Prize during the struggle against Indonesia.
Gusmao, a charismatic independence hero and ally of Ramos-Horta, is not running for re-election but has said he would run for prime minister in parliamentary elections to be held later this year.
Asked about the Horta candidacy, he said, "He is the right person to represent the country outside and he is the right person to be the President for the next period of five years."
East Timor became independent in 2002 after a period of United Nations' stewardship.
Pro-Indonesian militia went on a rampage before and after East Timor voted to break away from 24 years of Jakarta rule in a 1999 referendum, destroying much of the territory's infrastructure and killing about 1,000 people, according to the United Nations.
East Timor descended into chaos again last year after the government sacked 600 rebellious soldiers.
The violence drove about 100,000 from their homes and prompted the dispatch of international troops.
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