Subject: SMH: Gusmao to UN: Get Tougher

Sydney Morning Herald March 14, 2000

Gusmao to UN: get tougher

By MARK DODD, Herald Correspondent, in Dili

East Timor's independence leader, Mr Xanana Gusmao, has blamed the Indonesian Special Forces command, Kopassus, for a spate of recent attacks and cross-border incursions into the devastated UN administered territory.

In an interview with the Herald, he suggested United Nations peacekeepers were less willing to apply the same robust rules of engagement as the recently departed soldiers from the Australian-led International Force in East Timor (Interfet).

Mr Gusmao also called on the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) to provide a bigger role for East Timorese in the peacekeeping mission, including security.

His comments, the strongest yet, on the need by UNTAET to engage East Timorese more fully in the peace process follow a string of violent incidents by small groups of pro-Jakarta militia trying to assassinate pro-independence officials.

One militiaman captured last week in central Atsabe confessed he was also instructed to kill Europeans working in East Timor.

The violence has led to the temporary closure of a road improvement project worth $A820,000 in Ermera district involving Tasmanian engineering contractors.

Since his release last year from jail in Jakarta, Mr Gusmao, who continues to command the Falintil guerilla force, returned to Dili to a hero's welcome and now heads the main pro-independence umbrella body, the National Council for Timorese Resistance (CNRT).

"For a long time we [CNRT] have thought it will not be easy for the Indonesian generals, mostly the Kopassus officers, to accept the result of the East Timor problem," he said. "We foresaw their attempts at destabilising this process after Interfet.

"Maybe they are trying to prove that the [UN] peacekeeping force is more weak or that the peacekeepers are less offensive. Now we are witnessing these attempts at destabilisation."

Mr Gusmao said information gathered through Timorese intelligence networks indicated that the former Indonesian armed forces chief General Wiranto might be personally involved in the latest spate of armed attacks across the border.

"We know one or two weeks ago Wiranto had a meeting with some militia people. Now, if this is true, Wiranto is involved again. If not it is Kopassus, they are masterminding these results [violence]," he said.

Branding anti-independence militia leaders and their Indonesian military backers as "criminals and murderers", Mr Gusmao said he feared that UNTAET peacekeepers would become the next target of the militia infiltrators.

"I think after all these incidents UNTAET and the peacekeeping force - they will have to review their attitudes on how to deal with this problem," he said.

"There are still incidents along the border. Without some measures maybe they [militia] will harm some of the peacekeeping force, some soldiers. I hope [the UN force commander] General de los Santos and his staff can perceive this."

On strategies to deal with continuing cross-border militia attacks, Mr Gusmao said it was up to the peacekeepers to show they operated under a Chapter Seven mandate from the UN Security Council which allows the blue beret force to return lethal fire if threatened.

On the possible redeployment of Falintil guerillas, Mr Gusmao responded that this was a "difficult and complicated" issue. He noted that a major problem with the UN peacekeepers was their inability to communicate with locals.

"We have zero point one per cent of people knowing English. It is difficult in every respect of communication. I myself have had to learn English," he said.

"But I believe the peacekeeping force, UNTAET themselves, they can have a lesson of the need to involve the East Timorese in all aspects because we know the situation, we know our people and we can help solve problems like security problems."

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