Timor: A morte de um adversário de Xanana
10 August 2015 By Sara Everingham / Radio Australia East Timor faces a test of its stability after Mauk Moruk, the leader of a rebel group, is killed in a confrontation with the military and police in the area of Fatulia, Baucau over the weekend. East Timor is facing a test of its stability after the leader of a rebel group was one of four people killed in a confrontation with the military and police in the area of Fatulia, Baucau over the weekend. Mauk Moruk was a long-time opponent of the former prime minister Xanana Gusmao and was the leader of an armed group of disaffected veterans from East Timor's independence struggle, the Maubere Revolutionary Council. The armed group was being pursued by Timor's security forces following attacks on police earlier this year. East Timor's former president Jose Ramos-Horta said Mauk Moruk's death was sad and unfortunate, but said he did not think it would threaten East Timor's stability. "No I don't think so, because people in the country are very familiar with Mauk Moruk ... they knew his record, his behaviour, he burned bridges all these many months of violent activities," he said. Mr Ramos-Horta said he did not expect reprisals from Mauk Moruk's supporters in Baucau. "No, he has extremely limited support in the area," he said. "I know exactly how much support [he has], how much he doesn't have." East Timor's government issued a statement on Saturday night confirming that Mauk Moruk had been killed during a joint security operation involving the military and police. The statement said the confrontation that resulted in an exchange of gunfire had been unavoidable and urged people to remain calm. East Timor's minister of state, Agio Pereira, told the ABC that the joint force of military and police had limited options during the confrontation with Mauk Moruk and his supporters. "He was also armed and first to shoot and very regrettably he was killed as a consequence of this operation," Mr Pereira said. "The joint operation forces called him to surrender, to give up his gun but he refused, he start shooting, they had no choice." Mr Pereira said the three other people killed in the incident were part of Mauk Moruk's security team. Revolutionary struggle for independence Mauk Moruk's Maubere Revolutionary Council is made up of disaffected veterans from East Timor's struggle for independence. Mauk Moruk was once a leader in the armed struggle for East Timor's independence, but in the 1980s he was part of a group that split from the main resistance force, Falantil, led by Mr Gusmao. Associate professor Michael Leach from Swinburne University said Mauk Moruk's group, who are usually armed and dressed in old military uniforms, is a legacy of East Timor's 30-year-old split. "They were a dissident group in the '90s, operating semi-independently, they had disagreements with the leadership of the military resistance at the time." Mr Leach said. "That has continued after independence and this group and others don't recognise the authority of the Timorese state. "These groups are really the legacy of East Timor's difficult 24-year struggle for independence and after independence they had, like other countries have had, military forces that they have to somehow re-insert into society and it's a difficult thing to do and these final remaining armed groups are the last legacies of that difficult struggle for independence." About two years ago Mauk Moruk began challenging then-prime minister Mr Gusmao. He criticised Mr Gusmao's leadership style and tried to broaden his support by tapping in to concerns about unemployment and poverty. Earlier this year there were reports Mauk Moruk's group had captured two police officers in the Laga subdistrict of Baucau. After the attacks on police, East Timor's government launched the joint police and military operation to arrest Mauk Moruk. Several weeks ago, former president Ramos-Horta was asked by his successor, Taur Matan Ruak, to try to persuade Mauk Moruk to surrender. Mr Ramos-Horta's family spent several years living in Laga where Mauk Moruk was born and he knew him well. He said he tried to mediate but Mauk Moruk was not willing to talk. "Mauk Moruk had numerous chances to surrender to give up the few weapons he had, the government was extraordinarily patient for many months to the point where people were criticising the government for inaction," Mr Ramos-Horta said.