Subject: Lusa: Demonstrators protest Wiranto meeting on Gusmão's ret

East Timor: Demonstrators protest Wiranto meeting on Gusmão's return home

Dili, May 31 (Lusa) - East Timorese President Xanana Gusmão returned home Monday from a weekend meeting with former Indonesian military chief General Wiranto to face dozens of angry demonstrators, demanding justice for atrocities committed by Indonesian forces in 1999.

On leaving Dili airport, Gusmão got out of his car and briefly talked to the demonstrators, who waved posters and shouted slogans denouncing any "dialogue with criminal Wiranto", a leading candidate in Indonesia's upcoming presidential election.

"The explanations Xanana Gusmão gave us are convenient excuses", demonstration organizer Joaquim Fonseca later told Lusa.

"I think the Timorese, who carried out a great struggle for independence and against (Indonesian) occupation, do not accept such initiatives", Fonseca added, referring to the president's meeting Saturday night with Wiranto in Bali.

A United Nations-backed Dili court issued an arrest warrant May 10 against Wiranto, Jakarta's defense minister and military chief at the time of East Timor's independence plebiscite, for crimes against humanity committed in 1999.

In brief comments to Lusa before leaving the airport and speaking to the demonstrators, Gusmão said he had not felt "used" or "intimidated" by his meeting with Wiranto at the Indonesian resort island, where he said he had gone on "vacation" with his wife and two children.

He downplayed the significance of the small demonstration, saying East Timor was a "democratic country" where people were free to "express themselves".

Timorese Foreign Minister José Ramos Horta told Lusa Sunday he understood the reasons behind the controversial Bali meeting but criticized Gusmão's timing.

"A meeting between the president and General Wiranto, which could be inevitable or indispensable, should only have taken place after the elections", Ramos Horta said, referring to Indonesia's July 5 presidential ballot.

"Under these circumstances, on the eve of elections, I don't consider (the initiative) sensible", he added.

East Timor's two leading newspapers carried front-page reports Monday of the Bali meeting, featuring photographs of a smiling Gusmão and Wiranto embracing each other.

The arrest warrant against Wiranto has embarrassed Dili's leadership, who place normalized relations with Jakarta at the top of the diplomatic agenda.

Attorney General Longuinhos Monteiro, who has criticized the warrant as serving "foreign interests" at Dili's expense, said last week he had no immediate plans of formally informing Interpol of the arrest order.


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