Subject: KY: Gusmao to turn over Falintil command to deputy

Gusmao to turn over post of Falintil commander to deputy

DILI, East Timor, Aug. 17 Kyodo

East Timorese leader Xanana Gusmao is passing on his post as commander-in-chief of the National Liberation Armed Forces of East Timor (Falintil) to his deputy, Taur Matan Ruak, on Sunday, the Suara Timor Lorosae reported Thursday.

The date of the turnover marks Falintil's 25th founding anniversary, and a ceremony celebrating the occasion will be held in the Falintil birthplace in Aileu, southwest of the East Timor capital Dili, the newspaper said.

An invitation sent to officials of the United Nations shows that the day-long festivities include a turnover ceremony for the Falintil commander but did not mention who will take Gusmao's place.

During Indonesia's occupation of East Timor, Falintil fought for the independence of the territory.

Gusmao is now also president of the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) and is widely considered East Timor's president-in-waiting.

Falintil members, estimated to be between 1,000-1,400, are currently in cantonment in Aileu pending determination of their role in an independent East Timor.

East Timor is now under the administration of the United Nations as it goes through a transition to full independence.

A U.N.-administered referendum Aug. 30 last year resulted in an overwhelming vote for East Timor's independence from Indonesia. The vote was followed by a wave of violence and destruction by Indonesian military-backed militias.

Multinational troops were deployed in September to contain violence and end the destruction in the territory.

Falintil historically was the armed wing of Fretilin, the biggest independence party inside the CNRT, a loose grouping of former rival political parties.

Gusmao was a top Falintil leader when the guerrillas fought against the security forces following Indonesia's invasion of East Timor, then a Portuguese colony, in 1975. Indonesia annexed the territory as its 26th province in 1976, a move never recognized by the United Nations.


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