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Resistance wants to return before plebiscite

Lusa - May 4, 1999

New York – The two main East Timor opposition parties, FRETILIN and the UDT (Timorese Democratic Union), want the UN to guarantee that their leaders resident abroad will be allowed to return to the territory before the August 8 plebiscite on autonomy or statehood.

"If we are not allowed to return, then we will question the entire process", FRETILIN's main overseas representative, Mari Alkatiri, declared Tuesday in New York. Alkatiri said he would discuss the matter with Jamsheed Marker, the UN secretary-general's special envoy for East Timor.

UDT president Joao Carrascalao is also in New York to accompany the 15th round of UN-sponsored negotiations on East Timor between Portugal and Indonesia. The talks are expected to culminate Wednesday with the signing of the accord on the August plebiscite.

"It's hypocrisy on the part of the negotiators if we're not allowed back", Carrascalao said. He added that if the pro-independence resistance leaders are permitted to return from exile, then the UN mission overseeing the plebiscite will have to guarantee their safety.