Subject: JP:Gusmao sends message of reconciliation [+Gusmao looks Timor's future]

also: Gusmao looks to the future of East Timor

The Jakarta Post May 4, 2002

Gusmao sends message of reconciliation

Anastashya Emmanuelle and Tiarma Siboro, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

East Timor president-elect Xanana Gusmao ended his two-day visit here on Friday, leaving behind a strong reconciliation message.

"The people of East Timor greatly look forward to her participation and will welcome her with all their hearts," Gusmao said, referring to President Megawati Soekarnoputri's expected visit.

Megawati has yet to decide whether or not to join world leaders in the May 19 and May 20 East Timor independence celebrations in Dili.

During his stay he also met with and invited House Speaker Akbar Tandjung, Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono as well as Minister of Foreign Affairs Hassan Wirayuda to attend the celebrations.

Gusmao met the press at Borobudur Hotel prior to his departure to Makassar to visit East Timorese refugees there before returning to Dili.

In a written statement, Gusmao, who won a landslide victory in the April 14 elections, reiterated his hopes that Megawati would attend East Timor's celebrations.

Reading the statement, he said the main purpose of his visit was to follow up on an earlier invitation to Megawati sent by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

Gusmao also said that rebuilding East Timor's infrastructure, mending its economy and social problems were far more important than dwelling on the grim past.

Pro-Jakarta militias ravaged the half-island territory in protest to the August 1999 referendum, leaving East Timor to rebuild a nation from scratch as around 80 percent of the infrastructure was later destroyed.

"There are many things to do. Independence is not about having a flag and a president ... it is useless if we don't make some use of it," Gusmao said.

Justice to Gusmao, who led a guerrilla army fighting against Indonesia's occupation, is about bringing social justice to the East Timorese.

"We have suffered and died for what? To try other people or to benefit from independence?" he said when asked whether he would try those responsible for the atrocities in the territory when he formally assumes office.

Gusmao, imprisoned for seven years at Cipinang Penitentiary, refused to comment on the human rights tribunal taking place in Jakarta.

"I am not an activist, I am not a judge, my priority is how to give our people the opportunities of democracy," he said.

Separately, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Endriartono Sutarto said on Friday that he was not in the position to comment on Megawati's plan to visit Dili.

"I just want to say that East Timor will become a country in the next few days ... It's an unavoidable fact ... East Timor is now a neighboring country of Indonesia," Endriartono said after chairing a ceremony marking the retirement of Lt. Gen. Kiki Syahnakri as Army deputy chief of staff.

"For the sake of our (Indonesia's and East Timor's) common interests, we have to forget the past and to look toward the future," he said.

Minister Hassan said on Friday that Indonesian assets in East Timor were still being identified and assessed by a team from the National Development Planning Board (Bappenas).

As for the Seroja Heroes Cemetery in Dili, the Indonesian government is also planning to restore it or remove the remains to Indonesia, depending on the decision of the families of the deceased.


The Jakarta Post May 4, 2002

Gusmao looks to the future of East Timor

Annastashya Emmanuelle, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Rebuilding the infrastructure of war-torn East Timor and developing its human resources will be an enormous task both for the United Nations Transitional Administration for East Timor (UNTAET) and the soon to be fully independent country.

Bearing in mind this mammoth task, president-elect Xanana Gusmao considers that one would be wise to prioritize the nation's welfare instead of holding grudges over the past.

Gusmao, who was the commander of the Forcas Armadas Libertacao Timorleste (Falintil) which fought against Indonesia's occupation for more than 18 years, strongly encourages all to look to the future.

Justice, he says, is in the form of social justice, marked by the improvement of living standards for the East Timorese, who currently live on around 50 U.S. cents a day.

The reluctant presidential candidate, who won the majority of votes in April's election, said he would be more of a symbol than having a strategic role in the government after being inaugurated as president.

"I will help components of our society better understand the process because democracy doesn't grow in an instant," he said in a media conference in Jakarta on Friday.

For a person who often claims to be a non-politician, preferring to write poetry and farming than be a president, Gusmao is tactful and careful in his answers concerning political rivalries.

When asked about his rumored friction with future prime minister Mari Alkatiri, he said: "That is something the media used to talk about. Differences are a sense of democracy".

Jose Alexander Gusmao, who later changed his name to Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, is the second son of seven, born in June 20, 1946 in the village of Manatuto.

He escaped a Catholic seminary school in Dare that his parents had sent him to and continued his high school education in Dili, because the Tango-dancing young Gusmao did not aspire to become a Catholic priest.

Once a journalist for Avez de Timor, he later went to Australia to work and study journalism for two years, Xanana and Nobel laureate Ramos Horta established the Nacroma newspaper when he returned to Dili in 1974.

First married to Emilia Batista, also of Portuguese descendant, the couple have two children Nito and Zenilda who have remained in Australia since he decided to join the guerrillas in East Timor.

In Nov. 20, 1992 he was captured in Dili, and sentenced to lifetime imprisonment before receiving clemency from former president Soeharto in 1993.

He was granted amnesty by former president Abdurrahman Wahid in September 1999, and married his second wife, Australian Christy Sword, the following year.


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