Subject: AFP - Thousands rally in East Timor demanding ouster of governor
Date: Mon, 12 Oct 1998 15:53:11 +0100
From: "Paula Carvalho Pinto" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Indonesia-ETimor,lead Thousands rally in East Timor demanding ouster of governor
JAKARTA, Oct 11 (AFP) - Thousands of protestors rallied in the troubled East Timorese capital, Dili, Sunday demanding the replacement of the Indonesian government-appointed governor of the territory, a resident said.
The crowds, mostly youths, filled the main avenues of Dili travelling in convoys from the governor's office to his home and around the city to other locations for five hours calling for Governor Abilio Jose Soares to step down.
"Thousands of people on bikes, motorcycles and cars rallied all around town ... one of the demands was that Governor Abilio to step down," a resident who identified himself only as Germano said.
Soares earlier this week threatened to fire the civil servants in the province if they did not endorse an Indonesian proposal of autonomy for the former Portuguese colony, sources there said. A police mobile brigade force (Brimob) was seen guarding the governor's office but made no move to stop the demonstrators.
"The Brimob was standing-by at the governor's office but people did not care and continued demonstrating," Germano said.
The rally, which ended peacefully when the crowds returned home, came a day after a silent "stay-at-home" protest in Dili led by striking civil servants which was joined by the general public and left the streets deserted. The strikers said they would stay home from work until Soares revokes an ultimatum delivered on October 5 that some 15,000 East Timorese working as civil servants should support Jakarta's autonomy offer, or leave their jobs at once.
On Saturday, 16 East Timorese prisoners took advantage of the strike to escape from Dili's Becora jail, by simply walking out the front gate as vistors were leaving, prison officials told AFP by phone Saturday. Only four guards had been on duty instead of the normal 12, one official said.
The Indonesian military invaded East Timor in 1975 and Jakarta annexed it the following
year, a move which has not been recognized by the UN and most countries. Since 1984 the
issue of East Timorese's independence has been discussed with the Indonesian and
Portuguese governments under the auspices of the United Nations. The two parties are
currently discussing the autonomy offer, which jailed East Timorese resistance leader
Xanana Gusmao has said would only be acceptable if it were a transition step towards a
referendum on self determination.