Subject: AP: East Timor's Gusmao Threatens to Withdraw

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

East Timor's Gusmao May Withdraw

DILI, East Timor, Mar 8 (AP) -- Independence leader Jose Alexandre ``Xanana'' Gusmao threatened on Saturday to withdraw from East Timor's first presidential elections in a dispute over ballot procedures.

Gusmao told reporters in East Timor's capital, Dili, that he was protesting an election rule calling for ballots to carry the party logo next to a candidate's name.

``I feel there will be no other option for me but to consider to withdraw my candidacy,'' said Gusmao, who isn't a member of a party.

Gusmao has pledged to stand as a nonpartisan candidate to unite the country after 24 years of occupation by Indonesia and a turbulent period after it voted for independence in 1999.

Although Gusmao was nominated by 10 political parties for the presidential race, he has said he wants to stand as an independent candidate. He is widely expected to win the presidential race scheduled for April 14.

The former guerrilla leader has been a reluctant candidate. He announced his intention to run just last month as a deadline for nominations closed.

Earlier, he told his followers that he did not want to become the territory's first president, saying rebel fighters often make bad political leaders. He said he would rather be a farmer than a politician.

Gusmao's only opponent in the race will be Fransisco Xavier do Amaral, who was appointed East Timor's first president in 1975, after the pullout of the Portuguese colonial government.

Do Amaral has no objections to the election rule concerning party logos.

East Timor has been under U.N. administration since 1999 when its voters opted for independence from Indonesia.

The new head of state will be formally installed on May 20, when the world body is scheduled to end its interim rule, making East Timor the world's newest nation.

Gusmao joined the armed resistance against Indonesian rule and quickly rose to command the guerrilla forces in the 1980s. He was captured by Indonesian troops in 1992 and was held prisoner in Jakarta for seven years.


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