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Timorese leaders resume talks amid unrest

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Timorese leaders resume talks amid unrest


As international troops struggle to impose order on the streets of East Timor political leaders are meeting for a second day of talks to resolve the crisis gripping the country. Gang of youths, linked to feuding factions, have been wreaking havoc in the capital, Dili, looting and burning houses and cars.

A force of around 2,500 foreign soldiers, led by Australia, is now in place. Its commanders say they are getting to grips with the situation. President Xanana Gusmao is said to deeply disagree with Prime Minister Mari Alkatari on how to proceed.

The current crisis grew out of a revolt by almost half the tiny state’s armed forces against Alkatari’s decision to sack them. Gusmao wants government forces to return to barracks and to let the foreign troops take over. Alkatari believes the rebels should be disarmed first.

With food and fuel shortages a consequence of the unrest, civilians are bearing the brunt. The UN has begun distributing essential aid. All are hoping the international intervention will bring some stability.
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