|Subject: KY: E. Timor leader sees 3-year transition
period for Timor
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 1999 12:25:30 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
E. Timor leader sees 3-year transition period for Timor
MANILA, July 24 --
Pro-independence leader Jose Ramos-Horta said Saturday his group would press for a three-year transition period for East Timor under the supervision of the United Nations should voters reject an autonomy deal proposed by Jakarta.
Ramos-Horta told a news conference that supporters of integration with Indonesia would not be discriminated against in the event East Timor wins independence.
A U.N.-sponsored referendum is scheduled for either Aug. 21 or 22 to determine East Timor 's political status. Voters will be asked whether they support autonomy or independence from Indonesia.
Ramos-Horta, who arrived in Manila on Saturday for a six-day visit, said if the East Timorese choose independence his group would immediately call for a conference on national reconciliation.
"If we win the ballot we will not declare independence right away," he told reporters.
Ramos-Horta, vice president of the National Council of Timorese Resistance, said he would leave it up to another pro-independence leader, Xanana Gusmao, to form a government. However, he added that pro-independence leaders favor an arrangement whereby the new government would be under the supervision of the U.N. during the three-year period.
He also called on the Indonesian government to allow him and other pro-independence leaders in exile to return to East Timor "because it is a test to the fairness of the process."
"How can a democratic process, particularly a vote on the future of the country, take place in freedom and fairness when the main resistance leaders are not allowed to go back?" he said.
He said that in the event that the vote turns against independence, Jakarta would need pro-independence leaders to persuade their supporters -- many of whom would be disappointed and angry -- to accept the results.
Ramos-Horta, who lives in exile in Australia, urged the Philippines and other countries to persuade Indonesia to allow other East Timor pro-independence leaders to return to the troubled territory.
He said Indonesia would face serious economic repercussions from the international community if it fails to honor its commitments to hold fair balloting and to accept its results.
Ramos-Horta expressed disappointment that Indonesian opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri appears to support the policy of ousted strongman Suharto over that of current Indonesian President B.J. Habibie.
He said he believes that Megawati Sukarnoputri "as a newly elected leader, in a newly elected parliament, in a newly democratic country will not dishonor the democracy by reneging the right of the people of East Timor ."
While in Manila, Ramos-Horta is expected to meet with Philippine Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon, outspoken Manila Archbishop Jaime Cardinal Sin, members of Congress, businessmen, academics, journalists and Filipino activists who support East Timor 's independence.
Organizers of his trip say Horta hopes to receive "humanitarian and political support" for the U.N.-administered referendum in East Timor .
East Timor , a former Portuguese colony, was invaded by Indonesia in 1975 and annexed the following year.