Subject: UPDATE #4 - Resistance sceptical over Jakarta announcement
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999 13:32:18 -0000
From: "Paula Pinto" <paularoque@mail.telepac.pt>

8:35 pm (Jkat local time)

Timorese resistance sceptical over Jakarta announcement

LISBON, Jan 27 (AFP) - A suggestion Wednesday that Indonesia might let go of the troubled territory of East Timor "could advance things," Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio said Wednesday, although the Timorese resistance here was sceptical.

Indonesian Information Minister Yunus Yosfiah said if the government's latest offer of wide-ranging autonomy is rejected by the majority of the population in East Timor, "we will suggest to the new membership of the People's Consultative Assembly formed as the result of the next elections, to release East Timor from Indonesia."

Sampaio, in Brussels, told Portuguese Radio TSF that the statement was "not negative in itself...It signifies there are very divergent opinions among Indonesians.

"This is positive and that will advance things, but it is still premature to talk about it," he said, adding he was "very concerned about the difficult situation on the ground" in East Timor.

Roque Rodrigues, Lisbon respresentative of the National Council of the Timorese Resistance (CNRT), said he had reacted to the Yosfiah statement with "a strong dose of scepticism."

He said prudence was needed because the Indonesians "say one thing and do another...There is no confidence in the Indonesian government of (President) Jusuf Habibie, as there was none in the preceding one of Suharto."

Sanana Suharto ordered the invasion of the former Portuguese colony in 1975.

Rodrigues conceded the "unprecedented position of Indonesia was a step forward, but recalled that the Indonesian president had promised Bishop of Dili Mgr Ximenes Belo to withdraw troops from East Timor, and had instead reinforced them.

©AFP 1999

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