Subject: SMH: Mandela on guest list for East Timor's party

Sydney Morning Herald August 10, 2000

Mandela on guest list for East Timor's party

By MARK DODD, Herald Correspondent in Dili

Mr Nelson Mandela, the former South African president and hero of the struggle to end apartheid, will visit East Timor as a special guest to celebrate the first anniversary of the fledgling nation's vote for independence.

Sources said Mr Mandela had accepted an invitation from the independence leader, Mr Xanana Gusmao.

Mr Mandela will be the star guest for the August 30 celebration, which marks the date East Timor voted to end 24 years of Indonesian occupation. Others invited include Indonesia's President Abdurrahman Wahid, Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri, senior Cabinet ministers and government officials.

Invitations have also been sent to the Australian Prime Minister, Mr Howard, the Defence Minister, Mr Moore, and the chief of the army, Lieutenant-General Peter Cosgrove, the former commander of the Australian-led international force in East Timor.

Similar invitations have been sent to Lisbon.

Mr Mandela has been a long-term sympathiser with the East Timorese cause. In 1997, while still president and on a state visit to Jakarta, he asked then president Soeharto if he could meet Mr Gusmao, who was serving a 20-year jail sentence for opposing Indonesian rule.

Mr Soeharto agreed to the request, and the two dined together at the state guest house after Mr Gusmao was driven under guard from a Jakarta prison where he had been held since his capture in 1992.

East Timor is now under United Nations transitional rule, with full independence expected within two years.

Mr Gusmao is expected to be the country's first leader.

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