Subject: AU: Bid to coax rebels into the fold

November 10, 2003

The Age

Bid to coax rebels into the fold

By Jill Jolliffe


November 11, 2003

East Timorese politicians are hoping a formal headcount to identify former pro-independence guerillas will end their discontent and return them to the social mainstream.

Unemployed veterans who say their role in the fight for independence from Indonesia has not been recognised are a potential destabilising force for East Timor.

Scattered in hillside bases, some stage occasional hold-ups to demand revolutionary taxes from travellers. Others have formed sects that blend animism, Catholicism and radical politics.

A survey funded by a group of East Timor's international donors, including the World Bank, aims to recognise those who fought, paving the way for economic aid, while unmasking others using bogus guerilla credentials for political ends.

The idea was initiated by President Xanana Gusmao, former commander of Falintil (a Portuguese acronym for the Armed Forces for the Liberation of East Timor), who set up two commissions last year to oversee the project, helped by international experts.

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