Subject: FT: Lessons learnt by East Timorese leader

Financial Times

Lessons learnt by East Timorese leader

By Joe Leahy in Hong Kong

Former East Timorese resistance leader Jose Alexandre "Xanana" Gusmao yesterday suggested the lessons the United Nations had learnt in administering his war-shattered country might not be relevant to Afghanistan.

After Indonesia's occupation of East Timor in 1975, the main enemy had remained the Indonesian military and its locally recruited troops and militias. In Afghanistan's case, the country has been divided by civil war for the past decade.

"There are differences - we were invaded and occupied. In Afghanistan, it is not foreign domination but internal conflict between the Afghan people [that is the problem]," Mr Gusmao said in Hong Kong.

The UN took over administration of East Timor after the tiny half-island voted to separate from Indonesia in an internationally supervised referendum on August 30 1999.

Jakarta-backed militias and the Indonesian military units retaliated by destroying towns and villages, killing hundreds of people and deporting thousands more to West Timor.

East Timor is scheduled to gain full independence next May. Mr Gusmao, a former guerrilla leader who was imprisoned by Jakarta for seven years in the 1990s, is expected to become president.

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