Subject: AP: Four Indonesians MPs insist they will continue representing E Timor, despi

Four Indonesians MPs insist they will continue representing East Timor, despite its independence

Fri May 24, 2:03 AM ET

By IRWAN FIRDAUS, Associated Press Writer

JAKARTA, Indonesia - Like most lawmakers in Indonesia's Parliament, Natercia Do Menino Jesus Osoria Soares insists she is the voice of her people.

The only problem is that the people live in another country.

Since Monday, Soares and three other legislators have been thrown into political limbo. The former Indonesian province they represented — East Timor_ became an independent country, with a legislature of its own, on Monday.

That leaves the four politicians without a constituency.

The predicament has not deterred the four from showing up at Parliament this week and joining the debate over terrorism and the fate of East Timorese refugees. And they insist they are not going to step down from their well-paid posts.

"There is no reason legally that I have to resign from my post," said Soares, who did not support independence for East Timor (news - web sites) and said she is still looking out for the interests of pro-Jakarta Timorese.

Despite criticism from some fellow Indonesians, their seats appear safe for now.

House Speaker Akbar Tandjung confirmed that the four are still members of Indonesia's Parliament and said there were no plans to remove them. "They are members who represent Indonesian people," he said.

Some support for the four stems from Indonesia's relationship with East Timor, the world's newest nation. Despite East Timor's independence, there are plenty of thorny issues that remain unsettled. Among them are the fate of 55,000 East Timorese refugees in West Timor and Indonesia's calls for compensation for the loss of its investment in its former province.

Indonesia ruled East Timor for 24 years, until East Timorese voters opted for independence in an August 1999 referendum. Following the vote, anti-independence militias _supported by Indonesian security forces_ killed hundreds of people and destroyed nearly 80 percent of the country's infrastructure.

East Timor has a population of 800,000 people.


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