Subject: LUSA: Leaders urge all to work for consolidation of independence

East Timor: Leaders urge all to work for consolidation of independence

Dili, May 20 (Lusa) - East Timor celebrated the second anniversary of its hard-won independence Thursday with its leaders challenging the people to unite in hard work to overcome the country's problems.

President Xanana Gusmão, speaking at ceremonies at Dili's municipal stadium, said the "important fact" of the past year was the country's sense of "stability and security".

The independence celebrations came one day after the United Nations handed Dili full responsibility for domestic and external security.

Gusmão, acknowledging the disappointment of many over the slow pace of change and economic development, called on the Timorese to "help reconstruct the country" and show the world they would be "able to govern" themselves.

Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri told the crowd independence was more than having a flag, "seeking benefits" and counting on "miracles".

"Independence is responsibility - responsibility to contribute to peace and stability with discipline and firmness", Alkatiri said.

Noting East Timor was now fully in charge of its own security, he promised there would be "no more violence" because the country's authorities were ready to respond to any such attempt.

The ceremony included a minute of silence for the victims of anti-independence violence unleashed by Indonesian occupying forces and proxy militias at the time of the 1999 independence plebiscite.

EL/SAS Lusa


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