Subject: Gusmao: Militias Still a Threat

Kyodo November 26, 2004

Gusmao warns E. Timor still under threat of armed incursions

East Timor President Xanana Gusmao warned Friday his emerging nation still faces the threat of incursions by armed militias, most likely from Indonesia's West Timor.

Speaking at a seminar on the role the United Nations in peacekeeping and peace-building, Gusmao added he harbors concerns about whether East Timor's fledgling armed and police forces could withstand a determined onslaught.

"We are looking at the future as a continuity of conflicts, of maybe guerrilla war...We want peace in East Timor...(not) permanent conflicts with the other side," he said.

Recalling several militia incursions from Indonesia's West Timor, which shares Timor Island with East Timor, Gusmao suggested that while there was no evidence of direct involvement by Indonesia's armed forces "we can suspect that they back the incursions."

Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and ruled East Timor as a province until being ousted via a U.N.-sponsored voter in 1999.

Despite the clear majority voting against Indonesia, widespread violence broke out, largely caused by Indonesian Army-backed anti-independence militias.

Only intervention by an Australian-led international force ended the carnage.

The United Nations Mission in East Timor, which replaced the international force, then helped the tiny country to independence in 2002.

The UNMISET seminar Friday included participation by donor-country representatives in East Timor as well as U.N. agencies and other international representatives to discuss security, law, justice and development.

U.N. Special Representative in East Timor Sukehiro Hasegawa called on the international community for continued support for East Timor.

"It is essential that the international community continues to support independent East Timor in progressing steadily on the path to sustainable development, stability and advancing the quality of life of the dignified and deserving people of East Timor," Hasegawa said.

UNMISET's mandate in East Timor expires in May next year.


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