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Thousands rally demanding governor quit

Agence France Presse - October 11, 1998 (abridged)

Jakarta – Thousands of protestors rallied in the troubled East Timorese capital of Dili Sunday demanding the replacement of the Indonesian government-appointed governor of the territory, a resident source said.

The crowds, mostly youths, filled the main avenues of Dili travelling in convoys from the governor's office to his home and around the city to other locations calling for Governor Abilio Jose Soares to step down. "Thousands of people on bikes, motorcycles and cars rallied all around town ...one of the demands was that Governor Abilio to step down," a resident who identified himself only as Germano said.

Soares earlier this week had made a threat to fire the civil servants in the province if they did not endorse an Indonesian proposal of autonomy for the former Portuguese colony, sources there said.

A police mobile brigade force (Brimob) was seen guarding the governor's office but made no move to stop the demonstrators. "The Brimob was standing-by at the governor's office but people did not care and continued demonstrating," Germano said.

The rally came a day after a silent protest in Dili led by civil servants striking until Soares revokes an ultimatum delivered on October 5 that some 15,000 East Timorese working as civil servants should support Jakarta's autonomy offer, or leave their jobs at once.