Dili, East Timor
East Timorese President Xanana Gusmao said he was taking “sole responsibility” for national security this week, as gangs armed with machetes fought police and government troops. Gusmao, a hero from the 1999 Timorese independence war, has until now stayed aloof from politics in his largely ceremonial presidential post. But this week, he took direct control of the armed forces as well as the Defense and Interior ministries in an effort to prevent civil war. The streets of Dili became a battlefield last week, after several hundred recently fired military officers rebelled. Not even 1,300 peacekeepers from Australia could prevent rampant looting and burning.
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