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Timorese political party rejects 'Puerto Rico' solution

Lusa - September 2, 1997

Macau – East Timor's political party Timorese Democratic Union (UDT) rejected on Tuesday in "absolut and vehemently" the recent statements by guerrilla leader Konis Santana who said the territory's resistance could accept the relationship Puerto Rico has with the United States as a model for future ties between the former Portuguese colony and Indonesia.

In a statement sent to Lusa-Macau, UDT's Supreme Political Council, commenting on the message by Santana broadcast on the Portuguese television last month, said also it "profoundly repudiates the insinuation" that Portugal is not "interested in a fast solution for the East Timor problem".

UDT said Portugal, through President Jorge Sampaio "has been firm in its defense of the right of self-determination of the East Timorese people", and that the government, through Foreign Minister Jaime Gama, "has been competent and tirelessly sought a fair and honest solution for the Timor's problem without disregarding the aspirations and legitimate interests of the Timorese".

In a message recorded in the mountains of East Timor and broadcast on Portuguese television on August 22, Santana said the Falintil (armed wing of the East Timorese resistance movement) could accept the transformation of East Timor into a state associate with Indonesia, similar to the relationship Puerto Rico has with the United States.

Puerto Rico has almost total autonomy, with only foreign affairs and defence under the responsability of the United States.

Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and annexed it one year later in a move not recognised by the United Nations that still regards Portugal as the territory's administering power.

Portugal has demanded that East Timor be given the right of self – determination.