Subject: RT: Gusmao rejects Timor meet as ``dirty manipulation''
Date: Sat, 20 Mar 1999 09:23:06 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Gusmao rejects Timor meet as ``dirty manipulation'' 06:49 a.m. Mar 19, 1999 Eastern

By Lewa Pardomuan

JAKARTA, March 19 (Reuters) - East Timor guerrilla leader Xanana Gusmao on Friday rejected an invitation to attend a reconciliation meeting organised by pro-Indonesia Timorese.

Gusmao called the event a ``dirty manipulation'' and political manoeuvring by Jakarta.

He rejected an invitation to attend as the leader of the pro-independence National Council for the Timorese Resistance (CNRT).

``CNRT cannot accept this dirty manipulation. CNRT rejects participation,'' Gusmao said in a statement released by his lawyers.

Earlier this month Gusmao met Joao Da Silva Tavares, the leader of pro-Jakarta militias in East Timor. After the meeting the two men said they had agreed to discuss its future in peace.

But since then Gusmao has made a series of statements accusing the Indonesian government and military of using underhanded tactics to sabotage any moves towards the territory's independence.

``Reconciliation needs honesty. Peace cannot be bought,'' Gusmao said.

The event was to have started on Friday at Jakarta's Radisson Hotel, but a hotel official told Reuters it had been cancelled.

The meeting had the blessing of East Timor's Jakarta-appointed governor Abilio Soares, Gusmao said, adding he would not attend any meeting sponsored by the ``Soares family.''

Its organisers were a group calling itself ``Klibur Oan Timor Ba Dame'' -- a title in Timor's Tetum language meaning Peace Among East Timorese children. In a letter of invitation to Gusmao, it said the meeting was intended to promote ``brotherly dialogue.''

Gusmao said Soares had written a letter to several government ministers to ask for financial support. Soares also wrote in that letter that the talks were aimed at reaching a consensus on which rival East Timorese groups would agree to Jakarta's proposal for wide-ranging autonomy for the territory, Gusmao said.

``I keep receiving reports that Klibur has started a campaign for autonomy in East Timor,'' Gusmao said.

Violence has grown in East Timor since Jakarta announced in January it might grant independence to the former Portuguese colony, reversing 23 years of staunch opposition to independence.

Pro-Indonesia militias, which resistance leaders say have been armed by Jakarta, clashed with anti-Jakarta groups, prompting fears that the territory could plunge again into civil war. At least 60 people have died in such violence in the past six months.

Gusmao is regarded by many Timorese as their leader. He was jailed for 20 years in 1992 for leading a fight against Indonesian rule. He was moved to house arrest in February.

Foreign Ministers Ali Alatas of Indonesia and Jaime Gama of Portugal agreed earlier this month to let the Timorese decide in a U.N.-organised direct ballot whether they wanted autonomy within Indonesia.

If the autonomy proposal, expected to be completed by the end of April, is rejected, Indonesia has said it would pave the way for independence in the territory of 800,000 people.

Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and annexed it the following year in a move not recognised by the United Nations.

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