Subject: Lusa: National leaders chide militants for no-show at debate

National leaders chide militants for no-show at debate

Lusa 22.8.2002

East Timor`s leaders have criticized a militant group which called for "national dialog" at a demonstration Wednesday, but then failed to turn up in any number at their requested debate with the Dili leadership.

At the meeting Thursday in Dili, Francisco Guterres, speaker of Parliament, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta and the Bishop of Dili, Carlos Ximenes Belo, all accused the CDP-RDTL of "lack of respect" towards Timor`s sovereign bodies.

"They wanted to speak, didn't appear and afterwards will continue to provoke people to force the government to accept their demands", said Francisco Guterres.

Bishop Belo told Lusa that it was important everyone was aware that "sovereign bodies cannot be toyed with".

Belo, a joint 1996 Nobel Peace laureate, added that the radical group, who among other demands want a return to the 1975 constitution, were a result of the lack of a strong opposition in the Dili Parliament.

"As a there is no strong opposition, the opposition is outside the chamber" said Belo, adding that he would like to see the militant group organize as a political party.

The main spokesman for the CDP-RDTL (Popular Council for Defense - Democratic Republic of East Timor), Jacob Correia, called for the restoration of the ex-armed wing of the resistance, Falintil, the reinstatement of the 1975 constitution and transfer of control of Timor`s security forces from the UN.

Prime Minster Mari Alkatir pointed out that under the 1975 constitution, which only allowed a one-party state, the meeting would not have taken place.

"The text of '75 was revolutionary, but times and things change. The present constitution is legitimized by the people who elected the members of the Constituent Assembly.

"If you don't respect Parliament, we continue to be non- independent. This is dangerous. We have to respect sovereign bodies", said Alkatiri.

One of the militant group`s other main criticisms is of the international presence in an independent Timor. Bishop Belo responded to this: "If there had not been intervention by the international community, this man would not be speaking here today".

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