Subject: HeraldSun: Big names for Timor rebirth

Sunday Herald Sun March 3, 2002, Sunday

Big names for Timor rebirth


FORMER Beatle Sir Paul McCartney, former US president Bill Clinton, South African statesman Nelson Mandela and UN head Kofi Annan have been invited to East Timor's independence celebrations in May.

A huge party is planned to mark freedom after 25 years of Indonesian occupation and 500 years of Portuguese rule. The country is also expected to be renamed Timor Leste (Portuguese for East Timor) .

Organisers of the spectacular Sydney Olympic opening and closing ceremonies will help stage the event, expected to be televised around the world.

Already a select team, headed by former rock singer Ignatius Jones, has arrived in Dili to plan a massive prayer service and concert for May 19 and 20.

Jones said up to 200,000 people were expected at the celebration. Other invitees include Prime Minister John Howard, Indonesian leader Megawati Surkarnoputri and Victorian Premier Steve Bracks.

"There will also be hundreds of official delegations from all around the world," he said.

"Foreign Minister Dr Jose Ramos Horta was in America recently and invited ex-President Bill Clinton to come and he said he would as long as he could play saxophone at the event.

"He also met Paul McCartney who told him he was interested in attending."

Jones said the initial celebrations would include a huge Catholic mass conducted by East Timorese Noble Peace Prize winner Bishop Carlos Belo.

The opening night will feature the first national address by the new East Timorese president (expected to be former resistance leader Xanana Gusmao), the lowering of the United Nations flag and the raising of an independent East Timorese flag.

Following this will be a massive fireworks display in the hills above Dili.

The next day, a concert will feature local musicians and artists from Portugal, Brazil and Australia, and a display by East Timorese schoolchildren.

Jones said the festivities would take place 11km outside Dili at Taci Tolu, where the Pope held a huge mass in 1989.

East Timor will get a new national anthem -- an old resistance tune called Patria Patria with reworked lyrics. A Melbourne-based East Timorese artist is working on designing the country's new coat of arms.

Celebrations organiser Margherita Trancanelli appealed for Australian sponsors. Those interested in helping can contact the Sydney firm Edelman on (02) 99291 3348.

Meanwhile, top Australian film director Baz Luhrmann, who scored huge international success with Strictly Ballroom, Romeo And Juliet and Moulin Rouge, is keen to make a movie about the life of Gusmao's Australian wife, Kirsty Sword.

Luhrmann contacted Sword after she featured recently on the ABC's Australian Story.

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