Subject: SCMP: Horta expresses unity with Gusmao & Belo on transition
Date: Thu, 25 Feb 1999 21:32:26 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo:

South China Morning Post February 21, 1999

*Ramos Horta expresses unity with Gusmao and Belo on transition

Trio holds key to East Timor's future

By: Vaudine England

THE 800,000 people of East Timor now appear to have a chance to build a country of their own, after almost 25 years of conflict.

But their prospects hinge on at least two big uncertainties: will Indonesia really withdraw from the territory, and will the East Timorese be able to run their own affairs?

Time, diplomacy and international pressure will help answer the first question.

Many see the answer to the second question resting in the hands of three men: resistance leader Xanana Gusmao, under house arrest in Jakarta; Church and community leader Bishop Carlos Belo in the territory's capital, Dili; and Jose Ramos Horta, international envoy for an independent East Timor.

Each in his own way is propagating the cause of a viable homeland for the East Timorese. Over the years, the two Nobel peace laureates, Mr Ramos Horta and Bishop Belo, have often argued and criticised each other, while charismatic Gusmao retains the love and loyalty of his people. Are these men united?

"I have no stupid illusions to be more than Xanana," Mr Ramos Horta said in Hong Kong this week.

His tone is more conciliatory, more diplomatic than ever before.

Each of the three men is saying he does not wish to be the leader of their new country. Gusmao says his experience as a fighter ill prepares him for administrative duties, Bishop Belo's first job is for the Church, and Mr Ramos Horta claims he is not angling to be foreign minister and would rather set up a school for diplomats.

Mr Ramos Horta has had most access to international media and support over the years and has revelled in it. But even he, with the prospect of real change in the air, is eager to show how united he and his colleagues can be, describing Gusmao and Bishop Belo as "extraordinary gifts" to the East Timorese people.

Referring to Gusmao, Mr Ramos Horta said: "I like him as an individual, an extraordinary individual who I admire. Second, he's brilliant. Third, I know he's supporting the country. Occasionally I disagree with him.

"As far as Belo is concerned, let me tell you also, I have tremendous devotion to him. Contrary to some media in the region that have written things that there are differences between me and Belo, I am the one who behind the scenes for a long time, more than anyone else, promoted his name for the peace prize in Oslo."

None of this can hide the different styles of Bishop Belo and Mr Ramos Horta.

Bishop Belo, after all, is living in the heart of the disputed territory and cannot afford - even if he wished it - to be as uncompromising as Mr Ramos Horta.

After more than two decades of travelling the world, interacting with human rights groups and fuelling the resistance struggle from afar, Mr Ramos Horta can more easily deride Indonesian soldiers as "stupid, arrogant bastards".

When Indonesian soldiers massacred mourners at a funeral in Dili in November 1991, it was Bishop Belo's house and church to which the frightened and injured East Timorese people ran to hide.

The bishop, on the spot and representing the Church, was the most trusted man around.

Gusmao was still in the hills and Mr Ramos Horta, abroad, could denounce the atrocity at will.

The impression given now is that each man realises that each has his own job to do, and old arguments of degrees of integration with Indonesia or outright independence now appear to have been put aside.

"Regarding the transition we have no differences," Mr Ramos Horta said. "Xanana wants a transition as long as necessary. Bishop Belo wants a transition as long as necessary.

"And neither of us, Belo, Xanana or myself, want a transition entailed with Indonesia.

"That's what Bishop Belo says - he wants the UN to be there.

"No one on the ground in East Timor wants autonomy with Indonesia alone. And Bishop Belo knows that."

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