APSN Banner

Mixed reaction to Gusmao's interview

Lusa - December 17, 1998

Lisbon – There has been a mixed reaction to jailed East Timorese armed resistance leader Xanana Gusmao's interview with LUSA earlier this week.

In the interview in the Cipinang prison on the outskirts of Jakarta on Tuesday, Gusmao indicated that the East Timorese should consider accepting an Indonesian offer of autonomy on condition that a referendum on self-determination is held within 10 years, apart from maintaining that his occupied home land was not ready for immediate independence.

Abilio Araujo, a former president of FRETILIN, said in Lisbon on Wednesday Gusmao's views appeared to be more reconciliatory than in the past, adding he hoped he would soon be able to meet Gusmao.

"We must talk," Araujo said, adding he would prefer the meeting "not to take place in prison." Roque Rodrigues, the Lisbon representative of the National Timorese Resistance Council (CNRT) said the interview had once again shown that Gusmao was a "strategist and a leader." Rodrigues also said the interview was proof of Gusmao's "intelligence, moderation and sense of reality." However, a spokesman for the Socialist Party of Timor (PST) said in the Portuguese capital on Wednesday he could not agree with Gusmao's stance on the issue of autonomy.

Azancot de Menezes said his party believed that the East Timorese were ready to declare their home land's independence without any need for a transition period as suggested by Gusmao.

Alberto Alves, president of the Academic Association of Timorese University Students in Portugal, told LUSA in Lisbon on Wednesday he agreed with Gusmao's views expressed in the LUSA interview, namely the need for a transition process leading to a referendum on self-determination. "In the occupied countries of the Third World, independence cannot happen overnight," Alves said.