Subject: AFP: Xanana says Timor government to be secular, to speak Portuguese

Agence France Presse April 2, 2000, Sunday

East Timor government to be secular, to speak Portuguese - Gusmao SAO PAULO, April 2

East Timor independence leader Xanana Gusmao said Saturday the new government for his homeland will adopt Portuguese as its official language and be secular, although the Roman Catholic church will play a strong role.

"We will have a secular system, but the church will play a role, not only in the transition, but also in independence, reinforcing our effort to consolidate the process, stablizing it, and bringing it to fruition," Gusmao told a news conference here.

"In education, the church will also have an important role," said Gusmao, who head the National Council of Timorese Resistance.

But he said Nobel Peace Prize winner Bishop Ximenes Belo will not become directly involved in the government, Gusmao said.

Gusmao is visiting Brazil, which like East Timor is a former Portuguese colony, to drum support for his new government. East Timor is currently under UN administration while it forms a government, in line with a referendum last year that declared the region's independence from Indonesia.

Indonesia had invaded East Timor and annexed it after Portugal abandoned the territory in 1975.


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