Subject: We accepted the risk, now we accept the cost, Gusmao says

Also: East Timor leader promises western-style democracy

We accepted the risk, now we accept the cost, Gusmao says

MELBOURNE, Australia, Oct 11 (AFP) - The East Timorese people were prepared to accept the risk of armed struggle against Indonesia and now accept the high cost of their freedom, resistance leader Xanana Gusmao said Monday.

Gusmao also told reporters here that he hoped to return to East Timor from Australia as soon as possible to set up an interim administration to work with the United Nations during the transition to full independence.

"We know that we have a very, very difficult future," he said.

"We know that we will start from zero to reconstruct not only our contry but also ourselves as people, as human beings."

Speaking in halting English but carefully choosing his words, the man who spent seven years in Indonesian prisons before his release last month, said the East Timorese resistance movement had always known there would be violence following the August 30 ballot.

But it had never anticipated how destructive and devastating it would be.

"Before the ballot I believed that my people would very easily forget and forgive everything in the past, but the last weeks caused a very big trauma in my people," he said.

"It is why the year of 2000 will be a very very difficult time, a very very difficult attempt to heal everything, not only the basic infrastructure but essentially the spirit of our people, now traumatised by the destruction and by the violence.

"We are aware of a very, very difficult task.

"We are aware of our destiny, our fate of being a poor, small, defenceless people."

But he added: "We feel every reason to defend our freedom, a right to live as a human being, as a people."

Asked if the cost of East Timorese freedom and independence was too high in terms of death and destruction, he said the East Timorese had accepted the risk and now accepted the cost.

Asked if the cost of East Timorese freedom and independence was too high in terms of death and estruction, he said the East Timorese had accepted the risk and now accepted the cost.

"We accepted the risk at the beginning of our struggle, known that we fought alone against the indifference of the international community, against economic interests, against everybody."

Gusmao will deliver a major speech later Monday to an audience expected to top 10,000, including the vast majority of the estimated 8,000 East Timorese exiles living here.

He is also being given a reception at the Victorian state parliament and a welcome at the town hall.

---- East Timor leader promises western-style democracy

MELBOURNE, Australia, Oct 11 (AFP) - Independent East Timor will be a western-style democracy with open institutions and a diversified economy driven by exports of coffee, oil, gas and tourism, the man likely to be its first leader has promised.

It will be dependent on international trade -- not aid -- and will provide incentives to encourage the growth of its private sector while offering selective intervention to ensure efficiency and equity.

It will not harbour grudges for past injustices and will do its utmost to foster warm relations with Indonesia, resistance leader Xanana Gusmao told a fund-raising dinner here late Monday.

A renegotiation of the Timor Gap treaty by which Australia and Indonesia share oil and gas production off the coast of Timor was implied but not stated in a speech in which Gusmao outlined his blueprint for a dream fulfilled -- the free Republic of Timor Loro Sa'e, as he called it.

Some business and trade union guests at the 160 dollar (105 US) a plate dinner said they were surprised by the grasp of up-to-date economics -- complete with catchphrases -- demonstrated by the diminutive figure speaking in halting, heavily accented English.

After all, he had just emerged from six years in prison or detention after 16 years fighting Indonesian soldiers in the jungles and mountains of East Timor. But he has also been a poet, artist, army corporal and civil servant in the Portuguese colonial administration.

With the help of the international community, Gusmao vowed, "a free and independent East Timor will soon be born from the ashes of our devastated and destroyed homeland."

But although it desperately needed aid and assistance in the short term, it would "not allow the shaping of a culture of dependency on international aid and assistance," he said.

"East Timor will engage in international trade through exports of coffee, oil and gas, and tourism as well as importing goods and services from overseas.

"Nevertheless, we will place emphasis on developing the agricultural sector together with small and medium industries as the engine of economic growth."

With the aim of attracting foreign investment, East Timor would also develop technical, economic, scientific and cultural cooperation on bilateral and multilateral levels and with different countries and international institutions.

Gusmao, president of East Timor's CNRT (National Council of Timorese Resistance), said his people who had returned to the homes from which they were driven by pro-Indonesian militia last month after an August ballot demanding independence, would require the tools and resources to rebuild the framework of a civil society.

"They will need to re-establish government and non-government organisations and institutions to take charge of physical, social and psychological repair, reconstruction, reconciliation and re-integration."

The CNRT, he said, would build an effective administration with a minimum number of people but it would deliver the basic services the country needs.

It would give priority to building democratic institutions and an open and accountable economy.

"The democratic system that we are envisioning is the one that allows a genuine representation where all democratic elements, such as the press and non-government organisations, also have a substantial voice in the decision-making process," he said.

He promised it would also be diligent "in promoting total transparency within the apparatuses and organisations of power and, in the management and accountability of funds provided by international aid to civic and social organisations."

This would ensure that "from the first moment we can firmly combat corruption and all temptation to debase the objectives of sustainable development."


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