Subject: Meeting between East Timor's Gusmao and ex-militia chief cancelled

Received from Joyo Indonesian News

Agence France-Presse November 19, 2001

Meeting between East Timor's Gusmao and ex-militia chief cancelled

A planned reconcilation meeting between East Timor's independence leader Xanana Gusmao and former feared militia chief Eurico Gutteres reportedly fell through after Gusmao failed to turn up.

The two were due to meet Sunday in Denpasar on Bali island. But Guterres' lawyer Hukman Reni, quoted by the state Antara news agency, said Gusmao only sent an envoy, David Ximenes.

Reni said Guterres refused to see the envoy as he wanted to meet only with Gusmao. His client had already left Bali for Jakarta.

"Eurico is still prepared to hold a meeting with Xanana but it should be a direct meeting with face-to-face discussions," Reni said.

Gusmao is universally expected to become the first president of the world's newest nation. His proposed meeting with Guterres had been arranged by a senior officer of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor and a Roman Catholic priest.

Guterres could not be immediately reached in Jakarta for comment.

Reni said the two had been due to discuss reconciliation efforts and the repatriation of East Timorese refugees still holing up in squalid camps in Indonesian West Timor.

Guterres, the lawyer said, was seeking security, social and economic guarantees for those refugees who wanted to return home.

Gusmao and several other East Timorese leaders are due to visit West Timor on November 25 as part of efforts to speed up the repatriation of the refugees.

Guterres is the notorious former leader of the feared Dili-based Aitarak militia, blamed for much of the violence surrounding East Timor's vote for independence from Indonesia in August 1999.

He was also the deputy commander of the now defunct Pro-Integration Fighters, which had links to the Indonesian military.

Indonesia annexed the former Portuguese colony in 1976. East Timorese voted overwhelmingly to break from Jakarta in the UN-sponsored referendum.

After the vote pro-Jakarta local militias, allegedly backed by the Indonesian military, embarked on an orgy of killing and destruction.

The violence forced an estimated quarter of a million East Timorese to flee to West Timor, of whom some 188,000 have returned home so far.

Many of those still in West Timor were members or supporters of the militias. They fled after the arrival of UN peacekeeping troops in East Timor in September 1999.

East Timor, now under United Nations supervision, will become independent on May 20 next year.


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