Subject: PUB: Extracts from an interview with Abílio Araujo

Date: 18 March 2001 Source: Público Byline: Luciano Alvarez Original Language: Portuguese

Extracts from an interview with Abílio Araújo President of the Timorese Nationalist Party [PNT]

Público - Are there links between you and your party [PNT] and the CDP-RDTL [Popular Defence Committee - Democratic Republic of East Timor] ?

A.Araújo - The first time I ever heard of the existence of the CDP-RDTL was through its communiqué number 1, dated 7 May 1999. It was a communiqué that upheld the Democratic Republic of East Timor as a sovereign and independent state, and which expressed the organisation's opposition to the New York agreements [through which the popular referendum was made possible] and rejection of autonomy. The CDP-RDTL is a political group that sets itself apart from Fretilin and the CNRT. The PNT emerged much later [15 June 1999] and, while it was critical of the New York agreements, it never rejected them, and agreed to take part in the referendum in support of autonomy. From the outset, therefore, the CDP-RDTL and the PNT shared very different positions.

Q.: But are there any links between you or your party and the CDP-RDTL?

A.: We have links with the CDP-RDTL, just as we have with the CNRT and with all those who are children of Timor. We are prepared to participate in the process [that will lead Timor to independence], but on that score we differ from the CDP-RDTL, which believes that the UN should immediately recognise the Democratic Republic of East Timor [declared independence in 1975 by Fretilin] and does not wish to take part in the electoral process. I have been in touch with them [CDP-RDTL] and told them that this is an internationally recognised process in which we should all be taking part.

Q.: Are you refuting, therefore, the accusation that you are financing the CDP-RDTL ?

A.: What I refute is being behind the alleged attempt on the life of Xanana Gusmão and other acts of violence. I do not deny that, should someone ask me for money and if I happen to have some, I would help that person.

Q.: So, have you supported the movement financially ?

A.: I do not support organisations, but I do support individuals.

Q.: The members of that organisation hold you in very high esteem. They have gone as far as to say that Abílio Araújo ought to be head of government during the transition period, with Xanana Gusmão in second place…

A.: I am happy to know that there are Timorese who, in spite of having voted against my recommendation [to support autonomy], still recognise my abilities and my seriousness.

Q.: How would you describe the CDP-RDTL?

A.: Pure nationalists, who people should be talking to; repression and persecution are not going to silence them.

Q.: One accusation being made against you is that you are a friend of Indonesia and are being financed by Jakarta.

A.: It is true that I am a friend of Indonesia. When the time comes for Timor to declare its independence, it must have a policy of friendship towards Indonesia. Furthermore, I am keen to gain from the political capital I have accumulated through relations with Indonesia. The PNT is looking into ways of cooperating with its counterpart parties in Indonesia, and one with which it has most in common is Mrs. Megawati Sukarnoputri's PDI-P. As far as being financed by Indonesia is concerned, I am willing to make my accounts public.

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