Subject: RT: E. Timor hero Gusmao says he wants to lose election

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

East timor hero Gusmao says wants to lose election

By Dominic Whiting

BANGKOK, March 5 (Reuters) - East Timor independence hero Xanana Gusmao, the front-runner to lead the nascent Southeast Asian state, said on Tuesday he wanted to be defeated in his country's first presidential elections. Last month Gusmao, backed by 11 of the tiny territory's 16 political parties, accepted their nomination as a presidential candidate.

But Gusmao told reporters during a two-day visit to Thailand he hoped his only adversary, Francisco Xavier do Amaral, would win the April 14 election.

"I hope Xavier can defeat me, because I'm not interested in becoming president," he said. "Even if I win, I'll say again and again that I don't want to be president."

Political observers do not expect do Amaral to present much of a challenge to Gusmao, who led a resistance movement against Indonesian rule from East Timor's mountains until his capture by the Indonesian army in 1992.

Gusmao said he was persuaded to run for president by old comrades in the resistance movement.

"Some people say Xanana was a hero, but the people were the heroes. They cried, they laughed, they struggled," he said. "If you watch them do everything to get freedom, you have to go on with them."

"CUTTING PRESENT FROM PAST"

East Timor will become the world's newest nation on May 20 when it gains full independence. It has been under United Nations administration since a landslide vote to break away from Indonesia in 1999. Indonesia freed Gusmao on the day U.N. officials announced the result of the referendum.

Gusmao said he wanted to help instil democracy in the former Portuguese colony, which Indonesia invaded in 1975 and annexed the following year.

"My best contribution to the process is cutting the present from the past, helping people understand democratic values and defending tolerance," he said.

East Timor, devastated by years of misrule as well as militia violence following the landslide vote to separate from Indonesia, needed to build a health service, education system and infrastructure almost from scratch, Gusmao said.

He said he was confident international aid would continue to flow to East Timor even though the world's attention had switched to Afghanistan. But the government would have to show it was clean, Gusmao said.

"It will depend on us," he said, adding that the new government of East Timor would have to prove to the world that it was transparent, clean and was "trying to help people instead of taking advantage of them to strengthen power.

"We will have an open investment law to help the private sector to establish," said Gusmao, who was branded a dangerous communist in the 1970s by U.S. administrations.

Recently declassified reports show the United States gave the green light to Indonesia's invasion of East Timor in 1975.


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