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Last Updated: Tuesday, 27 June 2006, 12:34 GMT 13:34 UK
Supporters rally behind Alkatiri
Supporters of Mari Alkatiri - 27/6/06
The display prompted worries of further tensions
Thousands of supporters of East Timor's former PM Mari Alkatiri rallied outside Dili on Tuesday, saying they wanted to march into the capital.

But Mr Alkatiri, who resigned amid mounting criticism of his handling of weeks of unrest, urged them to wait "a day or two" before entering the city.

The show of support came as President Xanana Gusmao met with advisers to discuss who should replace Mr Alkatiri.

Under the constitution, Mr Alkatiri's ruling Fretilin party should decide.

But news reports from Dili suggested Mr Gusmao wanted to appoint someone from outside the party.


Mr Alkatiri resigned on Monday, after a show-down with Mr Gusmao.

But on Tuesday, Mr Alkatiri appeared to hint at a possible come-back.

"We are people who don't want violence and want to win again in 2007," he said, referring to next year's scheduled election.

East Timor has been beset by unrest since Mr Alkatiri sacked 600 disgruntled soldiers in March.

Gun battles between the rebel soldiers and those loyal to the government then broke out, with machete-wielding youths forcing thousands to flee their homes in fear.

The unrest turned into East Timor's worst violence since it voted for independence from Indonesia in 1999, and led to the young nation asking foreign peacekeepers to come to its aid.

As well as blaming him for triggering the violence, Mr Alkatiri's opponents also allege that he formed a hit squad to kill his political rivals - a charge he firmly denies.

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