|Subject: RT: JRH calls for UN transition
Date: Sat, 20 Feb 1999 09:05:43 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
E.Timor resistance leader calls for U.N. forces 07:51 a.m. Feb 19, 1999 Eastern
By Stephen Weeks
HONG KONG, Feb 19 (Reuters) - East Timor resistance leader Jose Ramos-Horta said on Friday that the United Nations should help supervise the strife-torn region for three to five years before it became independent from Indonesia.
``To reassure any parties worried about East Timor, we will feel free to bring in the United Nations to run a transition administration for a minimum three to five years,'' he told a news conference.
In a surprise move, Indonesia said last month that it would consider independence for the mainly Roman Catholic territory if the Timorese rejected an autonomy plan.
Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and then annexed it. An estimated 200,000 Timorese died in fighting or ensuing disease and famine.
Ramos-Horta, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996, said Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres had assured him in recent days that Lisbon would bankroll a U.N. operation in Timor.
He said Britain had sent a letter two days ago to guerrilla chief Xanana Gusmao saying London was willing to contribute troops and funds for a U.N. peacekeeping force.
Indonesia shifted Gusmao, an ally of Ramos-Horta, to house arrest in Jakarta this month from jail so he could play an active role in deciding the future of East Timor.
Members of the National Council for the Timorese Resistance (CNRT), of which Gusmao is leader and Ramos-Horta his deputy, have been talking with East Timorese who wanted to remain part of Indonesia to try to persuade them towards independence.
``Our dialogue with the so-called pro-integrationists, which is really taking place and going very well, and these kinds of policies, I believe we can really calm the situation,'' he said.
``Gusmao has met quite a number of pro-integration elements and gradually they are being persuaded they have nothing to fear,'' he said. ``I believe in the next few weeks this so-called pro-integration moment will fizzle out.''
The United Nations has also been mediating talks between Portugal and Indonesia to try to find a peaceful solution to the East Timor problem.
Ramos-Horta said the CNRT strategy was ``not to jump into independence but to establish a transitional administration under U.N. sponsorship with the inclusion of countries like Portugal but especially New Zealand and Australia.''
But he said the key to peace was Indonesian President B.J. Habibie honouring what Ramos-Horta said were promises to pull out all Indonesian troops from East Timor by next January.
If Habibie withdrew the troops by January, then Ramos-Horta said he would nominate him personally for the Nobel Peace Prize.
``In my capacity as Nobel laureate, who can nominate others for the Nobel Peace Prize, I will nominate Habibie as long as he gets his troops, (and) his lazy, incompetent, corrupt civil servants out of East Timor by January 2000,'' he said.
Ramos-Horta acknowledged that bringing democracy and human rights to East Timor after 23 years of strife would be tough.
``It is going to be an uphill battle to promote a culture of democracy, a culture of human rights in our society and there is no way out from that,'' he said.
One of the worst legacies of Indonesian rule was a web of corruption which would have to be cleaned out if the territory wanted to gain world respect, he said.
``The world community will forgive us for not having too many competent individuals running the country but one thing they will not forgive is if we have corruption,'' he said.