E Timor rebels hand in weapons

From: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/5149246.stm

July 5, 2006

A third group of rebel soldiers in East Timor has surrendered its weapons - part of an initiative to restore order in the troubled nation.

Major Augusto Araujo, who heads the rebel faction, said: "We don't want to fight anymore and we support peace."

Many of the rebels still holed up in hills around the capital, Dili, are part of a group of 600 soldiers who were fired from their jobs in March.

The sackings sparked street violence which killed at least 21 people.

Under intense pressure over his handling of the crisis, as well as claims he armed a civilian hit squad, Mari Alkatiri resigned as East Timor's prime minister late last month.

A new premier is due to be picked later this week, with former Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta rumoured to be one of the most likely candidates.

Quest for peace

Major Araujo and his men handed nine guns, mostly automatic rifles, over to Australian peacekeepers.

Two other groups of rebel soldiers have given up their weapons in recent weeks, although other factions are still thought to be holding on to their arms.

President Xanana Gusmao has repeatedly called for all groups to hand in their weapons, in order for peace to be restored.

"We... ask President Xanana to ensure all are disarmed holding illegal weapons, otherwise Xanana will lose the people's trust," Major Araujo told the Associated Press.