Subject: LUSA: Fretilin Silence on Gusmao Candidacy 'Prudent' - Ramos Horta

26 Feb 02 13:50 East Timor: Fretilin Silence on Gusmao Candidacy 'Prudent' - Ramos Horta

The silence of East Timor´s dominant Fretilin party on Xanana Gusmao´s decision to run for the presidency in April 14 elections with the backing of 10 other parties is a "prudent" attitude, interim Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta told Lusa Tuesday.

"Verbal restraint" and "reflection" were necessary to try establishing "improved relations" between the charismatic independence leader and the territory´s strongest political force, Ramos Horta said.

Fretilin leaders have yet to comment publicly on Gusmao´s candidacy, formalized last week, and his rejection of Fretilin calls for him to run as as independent.

"Xanana is the leader of us all and should dialogue with everyone, above all after he is elected president of us all", Ramos Horta said.

Gusmao, he added, would reveal himself a "statesman, extending his hand to Fretilin and forgetting the past", filled with disagreements with the party he once led.

Speaking in Bali, on the sidelines of a three-way meeting with Indonesia and Australia, Ramos Horta explained Gusmao´s decision to dismiss Fretilin support and run with the backing of 10 opposition parties as demonstration of his desire to avoid a "lame democracy, dominated by one party".

After winning 55 of 88 seats in Dili´s Constituent Assembly in last August elections, Fretilin ignored Gusmao´s calls for the formation of an interim cabinet of national unity.

Fretilin´s option intensified the already chilly relations between the veteran resistance chief and the traditional party of independence.

SAS/ASP -Lusa-

© 1997 Lusa Comentários e Sugestões para Agência Lusa

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