Subject: AP: E. Timor's first president resigns from legislature, citing govt failures

Received from Joyo Indonesia News

Associated Press March 14, 2005

East Timor's first president resigns from legislature, citing government failures

A man who served as East Timor's temporary leader in 1975 before it was invaded by Indonesia resigned Monday from his country's legislature, citing the government's failure to attract foreign investment and saying he wants to prepare for 2007 elections.

Francisco Xavier do Amaral, who lost to popular resistance leader Xanana Gusmao in the territory's first free presidential election in 2002, said he was powerless to solve East Timor's problems, including weak economic growth, because of the failures of the ruling nationalist party, Fretilin.

"It is already three years since our independence but no investors have yet come to East Timor to invest here and offer job opportunity to the people," do Amaral said. He said he would begin preparing for 2007 parliamentary and presidential polls.

Do Amaral served as East Timor's acting president during the 10 days in 1975 between Portugal's withdrawal as its colonial ruler and Indonesia's invasion of the territory of 600,000 people.

Like other Fretilin leaders, do Amaral escaped into the mountains and led a guerrilla war against the occupiers. But he soon fell out of favor with Fretilin, saying he was unwilling to continue the struggle in which about 200,000 people _ a third of the population _ perished.

In 1978, he was captured by Indonesian troops and taken to Jakarta, where he remained a prisoner for over two decades.

In 1999, East Timor opted overwhelmingly for independence in a U.N.-organized referendum that sparked widespread retaliatory violence by the Indonesian army and its proxy militias. The territory achieved full independence in 2002 following a period of U.N. transitional rule, but remains Asia's poorest country.

Do Amaral returned to Dili in 2000 and set up his own political party, the Association of Timorese Social Democrats, which he hoped would challenge Fretilin's dominance by attracting more foreign aid and investment.

But he garnered only 17 percent of the presidential vote when he challenged Gusmao in 2002.

Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri criticized do Amaral's resignation.

"If he is not satisfied with any area of the government's work he should offer alternative solutions, not just resign from Parliament," he said.

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