DILI - EAST Timor's opposition threatened on Friday to force an early election in an escalating row with the government over the release of an Indonesian militia leader accused of crimes against humanity.
Fretilin party spokesman Jose Teixeira told AFP the party will 'seriously consider' pulling out of parliament if a motion to censure the government of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao is not passed by parliament.
Fretilin, which controls 21 of the parliament's 65 seats, submitted the motion on Monday over the Gusmao government's decision last month to release militia leader Martenus Bere.
'We can't continue to be a part of what has become a violation of law,' Mr Teixeira said.
'If the censure does not go through, we can't see any way out,' he said, adding the withdrawal of Fretilin's MPs would be enough to automatically force an election.
Bere was arrested after crossing into East Timor on August 8, five years after being indicted for his role in a string of human rights violations including the 1999 Suai church massacre in which up to 200 people were killed.
The United Nations' human rights representative in East Timor on Tuesday criticised government 'interference' in freeing the militia leader. But Gusmao and President Jose Ramos-Horta have said reconciliation with giant neighbour Indonesia is more important than dwelling on past abuses.
At least 100,000 people were estimated to have died during Indonesia's 24-year occupation of East Timor, which ended with bloody violence surrounding a 1999 UN-backed independence vote. -- AFP