Subject: AP: East Timor 's former guerrillas could revolt

East Timor 's former guerrillas 06/22/2000

LISBON, Portugal (AP) - East Timor 's independence leader Jose Alexandre Gusmao said Thursday the guerrillas he once led against Indonesian troops are living in squalid conditions and could revolt.

Hundreds of former guerrilla fighters, who still have their weapons, have been living for the past nine months in designated areas monitored by the United Nations.

Gusmao warned officials at an international donors' conference here that the pro-independence soldiers, known by their movement's acronym Falintil, are "almost in a state of revolt."

"If we continue to offer no support for the Falintil, relegating them to a subhuman existence, we will all pay a high political and social price," Gusmao warned.

Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975, after Portugal hastily withdrew its 400-year-old colonial administration, and annexed the half-island territory the following year. The poorly armed Falintil guerrillas staged hit-and-run attacks from East Timor 's mountainous interior.

International donors who pledged more than dlrs 520 million to help rebuild East Timor at a December meeting in Tokyo are discussing progress at a two-day conference which ends Friday.

East Timor was devastated in September by anti-independence militias who rejected a U.N.-sponsored referendum in which an overwhelming number of East Timorese chose to break free from Indonesia's rule.

The United Nations has set up a transitional administration in the Southeast Asian nation to prepare the East Timorese for self-rule.

Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama said his country wants the United Nations to set a date for East Timorese statehood.

"Setting a date would act as a spur to stimulate efforts, speed procedures and help meet deadlines," Gama told reporters.

The meeting marks a turning point from providing humanitarian assistance for East Timor to implementing reconstruction programs in key sectors such as education, health and agriculture, according to the World Bank.

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