|Subject: Australian - Gusmao calls for militia to
From: "Paula" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
JAILED East Timorese resistance leader Xanana Gusmao said yesterday guerilla forces would be ready to lay down their arms as soon as the Indonesian military disarmed civilian militia.
He spoke as East Timorese officials and backers of autonomy prepared to leave for Jakarta to lobby against Indonesia's offer to consider independence for the former Portuguese colony.
The delegation plans to protest against the Government over its announcement last week that Indonesia may let go of East Timor, which it annexed 23 years ago, if a UN-backed proposal for wide-ranging autonomy for the province was rejected by the populace.
Some East Timorese believe a sudden withdrawal by Indonesia could see a return to civil war that followed Portugal's abrupt decision to abandon the colony in 1975.
The independence announcement has raised tensions in East Timor, with rival factions consolidating their positions.
Although armed forces chief General Wiranto earlier rejected claims the military was arming Timorese civilians, military district chief of staff Lieutenant-Colonel Supadi has confirmed that the military is recruiting and arming civilian groups with Indonesian armed forces (ABRI) rifles and captured weapons.
Colonel Supadi has admitted ABRI is arming the militia so they can help the military fight what ABRI calls "security disturbance" groups a euphemism referring to separatist movements in East Timor, Irian Jaya and Aceh in Sumatra.
Armed militia groups were blamed for recent attacks that left at least four people dead.
Mr Gusmao, head of the National Council of Timor Resistance (CNRT), said for the sake of peace, CNRT members would refrain from aggression even when spat on by members of pro-Indonesian groups.