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Violence Continues After Gusmao Named East Timor PM


Scattered violence continued a day after independence hero Xanana Gusmao was named the new prime minister of East Timor. VOA's Nancy-Amelia Collins in Jakarta has more.

Violence broke out in several areas of East Timor Tuesday, a day after President Jose Ramos Horta asked a coalition led by Xanana Gusmao to form a new government.

That announcement followed an impasse caused when no party won a majority in the 63-seat parliament in the June 30 elections.

Those elections were dominated by the Fretilin party and the CNRT party formed by Mr. Gusmao, who now becomes prime minister.

Although Fretilin won more seats than the CNRT, it still fell short of a majority.

The CNRT then formed a majority coalition with several smaller parties, leading to Mr. Ramos-Horta's decision on Monday.

"Today I make the decision that the alliance form the government," he said. "The alliance has appointed Xanana to become prime minister. I have told Xanana Gusmao to hand over the names of the new cabinet before Wednesday."

Fretilin's leader, Mari Alkitiri, slammed the decision, calling it illegal, and vowed to challenge it in court.

His supporters are suspected of leading Tuesday's violence. There have been reports of a few buildings being set on fire in the towns of Baucau and Viqueque, street fights and gangs throwing rocks at security personnel in the capital Dili.

Allison Cooper, a spokeswoman for the U.N. Mission in East Timor, says security has been increased but that the violence is limited and under control.

"Within Dili itself and within Baucau, static security at various key locations has been increased, and also patrols are ongoing. As many police officers as we've got are out on the streets at the moment," she said.

An international peacekeeping force led by Australia has been in the country at the government's request since devastating violence broke out in May 2006.

The firing of nearly a third of the army led to gang fights, looting and arson. Tens of thousands of people fled to refugee camps where thousands remain.

Fretilin's head, Mr. Alkitiri, stepped down as prime minister following the violence in 2006, which many blamed on him.

East Timor has been struggling to build its new government since voting for independence from Indonesia's brutal 24-year rule in 1999.

After several years under United Nations supervision, the impoverished country became fully independent in 2002.

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