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Subject: tres or dez anos [X says 3 years?!]
Date: Fri, 25 Dec 1998 00:53:33 +0930
From: Rob Wesley-Smith <> Organization: Australians for a Free East Timor (AFFET) /Troppo Rural Consulting

I think it may be possible to indicate a Christmas present to all those who are worried by the suggestion in the media, particularly the pro-Jakarta Antara news agency, that Xanana Gusmao suggested at least 10 years of autonomy for East Timor, when to most of us this seems outrageously and unnecessarily long (Zero to One years should be enough I reckon).

Below are the extracts from Lusa and Antara as posted 16 Dec first reporting the alleged 10 years. Note Antara says 'at least' 10 years, Lusa 10 years max, I wonder if they were at the same interview. Neither report is signed. The usual pro-Jakarta spin from Antara, with its history of lies and deceit!

Lusa 16 Dec 1998

Gusmao, 52, also said the East Timorese people should consider an Indonesian offer of autonomy before a referendum on self-determination in the former Portuguese overseas province, adding autonomy for East Timor within Indonesian should only last for 10 years before the referendum.

Antara: Jakarta, Dec 16 (ANTARA) - Jailed East Timorese anti-integrationist, Jose Alexander "Xanana" Gusmao, said Tuesday the issues on East Timor would be settled after the June 7, 1999 general elections as present developments tend to be positive.

"The present government is more moderate (than the past administration) because various problems, including the East Timor issue, are being handled," Xanana told ANTARA and LUSA, the Portuguese news agency, at the Cipinang prison here.

On the holding of a referendum as some quarters in East Timor demand, Xanana said the problems that have emerged in the province could not be settled easily, especially if a primordial approach is used.

He said it would be better if the government gives East Timor autonomy for at least 10 years before talking about a referendum.

Indonesia, he said, is facing other complex problems apart from the East Timor issue, which also needs to be settled immediately. end

Now, the Portuguese for 'three' and 'ten' sound remarkably similar, 'tres' and 'dez' respectively.

Our theory backed by some evidence is that Xanana said 'three' years. or 'tres anos'. (3 not 10)

I hope a reputable journalist or confidante can let us know soon.

No CNRT spokesperson has ever before suggested more than 5 years 'autonomy' that I am aware, mostly 2-3 years. My view is that East Timor should take independence now, and work through the adjustment period with excellent leadership from Xanana at the head of a team of leaders spanning the groups and ages, ie not excluding the students, whose enthusiastic support for any solution is essential for success.

Further to my opinion piece 'Where to?' of 22 Dec 1998 I urge the Timorese leaders to confide in the students and the people in the villages and mountains, and move together. There will be plenty of people ready to divide and rule, I personally suspect Marker to be one, it seems he cohorts with Indonesian military most of the time, he has repeatedly said that Indonesian troops must stay in East Timor to keep the peace, his first visit resulted in East Timorese deaths because of his attitudes, and he declines to chastise the Indonesian military for their recent terror campaigns!

If an agreement is needed to start the process of East Timorese occupying administering and ruling positions in East Timor, (which should be happening anyway, Habibie has had 7 months to make it happen), then fine, have an interim agreement! But don't sign away any rights whatever!

While the students are on studies break, perhaps a new offensive of meetings and consultations all over East Timor would be useful, hopefully they will be armed with the maximum knowledge of proposals and attitudes as possible.

Peace is possible 1999

Rob Wesley-Smith

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