Subject: SMH: Gusmao Bids Farewell to Struggle

Sydney Morning Herald Wednesday, June 6, 2001

Gusmao bids farewell to struggle

Mark Dodd

The main pro-independence alliance, which together with the Falintil guerillas symbolised East Timor's 24-year struggle for independence, will be dissolved this week.

In an emotional tribute before more than 600 people at the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) conference yesterday, its president, Mr Xanana Gusmao, praised the CNRT for not wanting to cling to power.

"Dear companheiros, you, side by side with Falintil, were the true builders of our freedom," he said.

"My dear brothers, sisters and companions in the struggle, as a human being it is hard sometimes to accept reality and to close everything.

"It is hard as an organisation which was highly motivated to lead the people of East Timor to independence to face a new context and framework together," he said through tears.

The CNRT must dissolve to allow political parties, many of whom are part of the organisation, to run in the country's inaugural elections on August 30. Mr Gusmao has said he will not stand for public office, although public opinion may force him to.

The two-day conference will review the organisation's achievements before announcing its formal dissolution on Saturday.

Established in Portugal in 1998, it replaced the Fretilin-dominated National Council of Maubere Resistance, which Mr Gusmao and others set up to fill a political void left by the near collapse of organised resistance to Indonesia in the late 1970s.

The CNRT, with offices in most Australian capitals and in other countries, quickly became the main rallying point for East Timorese aspirations. Its flag and name were used by the United Nations to represent the independence option in the 1999 referendum.


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