Subject: Look to future, not past, Gusmão urges at independence celebration

East Timor: Look to future, not past, Gusmão urges at independence celebration

Dili, Nov. 28 (Lusa) - President Xanana Gusmão urged the East Timorese Monday to be "proud of their history of struggle" for independence but to concentrate their attention on the country's future, rather than focusing on the past.

Gusmão, in a speech marking the 30th anniversary of the East Timor's short-lived unilateral declaration of independence in 1975, called on his people to "look with conviction to the future" instead of remaining proudly focused on the past or "flagellating" themselves for past "imperfections".

"Let us educate the people to understand the process of development, one that should never again be written in blood", but with wisdom, hard work and solidarity to "safeguard national unity and independence", the president told a festive crowd in Dili.

Among foreign dignitaries attending the celebrations were the current president of the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries (CPLP), President Fradique de Menezes of Sao Tome and Principe, and delegations from Angola and Mozambique.

In another initiative, the government announced that it would begin paying stipends for the first time in December to veterans of the 24-year guerrilla struggle against Indonesian occupation that began only days after the unilateral declaration of independence from Portugal in 1975.

Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, in a parallel event, reaffirmed his government's commitment to forging a "competitive" market economy in a speech to a conference of about 100 potential foreign investors.

Alakatiri outlined newly approved measures to reduce the costs and ease the setting up of businesses in East Timor.

In another development, Interior Minister Rogério Lobato told Lusa security forces captured three former pro-Jakarta militiamen after a firefight near the Indonesian border Sunday.

One Timorese police officer was wounded in the clash, Lobato said.

An inquiry had been ordered, the minister added, into suspected links between the former militiamen, now largely live in Indonesian West Timor, and dissident former nationalist FRETILIN guerrillas.

Lobato recently confirmed the detention of several former nationalist fighters whom he charged were bent on carrying out acts of "destabilization" against Dili's administration.

In related news, Indonesia's daily Jakarta Post reported Monday that notorious former militia leader Eurico Guterres had announced the creation of a new organization to promote the interests of the former irregular forces, whose "sacrifices", he charged, Jakarta was "ignoring".

Guterres is awaiting the Indonesian Supreme Court's decision on his appeal on a five-year sentence for crimes against humanity committed in East Timor around the time of the then occupied territory's 1999 independence plebiscite.

In the wake of the UN-sponsored plebiscite, East Timor gained internationally recognized independence on May 20, 2002.




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