Subject: PUB: "Autonomy will win"
Date: Fri, 04 Jun 1999 17:45:05 -0400
From: Comissão para os Direitos do Povo Maubere <cdpm@esoterica.pt>

Source : Publico Date : 31 May 1999 Dateline : Lisbon Byline: Joaquim T. de Negreiros Original Language : Portuguese Scope : Abridged Headline: "Autonomy will win"

The principle leader of the Third Way Movement believes that the majority of the East Timorese will choose autonomy when the popular consultation is held on 8 August. "Everything is pointing to autonomy winning", said Abilio Araujo, in statements to Publico. He expects that "fear of the unknown" will lead many Timorese to reject separation from Indonesia and choose the "safer" way, by accepting the autonomy package proposed by Jakarta.

The Third Way Movement has still not defined the way in which it will be taking part in the campaign preceding the consultation but it will probably form part of a "broad front" giving conditional support to autonomy. Abilio Araujo, who will soon be leaving for Jakarta for meetings to discuss this platform, explained that the Timorese political forces behind the idea would have to be prepared to fight for improvements to the autonomy package that will be put to the vote on 8 August.

Based on the principle that rejection of independence does have to mean acceptance of "this" particular project, nor giving Jakarta carte blanche, Abilio Araujo wants to mobilise Timorese around a set of objectives which could be reached within the framework of an improved autonomy package. Modifications could include the rejection of Indonesian troops permanently deployed in the territory, direct election of a Regional government President, observer status for East Timor at the Community of Portuguese-speaking Countries, the right to embark on bilateral relations, and undertake agreements with other States, and to negotiate directly with international financial agencies.

There is nothing altogether new about any of these ideas. They were all contained in the autonomy proposal which the UN put forward to Portugal and Indonesia. On Jakarta’s insistence, the proposal was diluted down to a substantially more modest plan. Abilio Araujo blames the Portuguese Government for backing down, and for its "disinterest" which, he says, led to its acceptance of "any autonomy plan", in the belief that it would be rejected by the Timorese, whatever its content.

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