TITLE=GUSMAO RETURNS UPDATE (L ONLY) (CQ)
INTRO: The leader of East Timor's independence movement
returned home Friday. Jose Alexandre Gusmao, better known
as Xanana Gusmao, was secretly flown from Australia to the
territory by international peacekeepers. As VOA
correspondent Gary Thomas reports from Jakarta, it was a
deeply emotional moment for both the former guerrilla
leader and his fellow East Timorese.
TEXT: Seven years after his capture and imprisonment by
Indonesian security forces, Xanana Gusmao returned to his
devastated but still defiant homeland.
There were cheers and tears from the crowd of some five
thousand people gathered in the plaza in front of the
former Portuguese governor's mansion in Dili to see their
hero. Mr. Gusmao pleaded for international help for his
battered homeland, and called for reconciliation. He said
East Timorese must, as he put it, let go of the bad things
that had been done to them.
Militias, backed in some cases by Indonesian soldiers,
embarked on an orgy of looting and destruction last month
after a referendum in which the province voted
overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia. The death
toll is unknown, but an estimated 400-thousand East
Timorese are still hiding in fear in the mountains.
Mr. Gusmao arrived two days after a special Indonesian
assembly voted to rescind the 1976 act of annexation,
paving the way for a United Nations transitional
administration. Mr. Gusmao is widely seen as the first
president of an independent East Timor.
Two hours before he arrived, trucks with loudspeakers
cruised the streets of Dili announcing Mr. Gusmao's
impending arrival. Thousands streamed towards the plaza.
Australian led international peacekeepers, who had brought
Mr. Gusmao back, imposed extremely tight security as troops
in full battle gear kept close watch.
Mr. Gusmao, a former journalist, joined the pro-
independence movement in the early days after the 1975
invasion. He became head of the Falintil guerrillas in
1981, demonstrating organizational and leadership skill in
uniting different wings of the movement. He was captured
in 1992 and sentenced to life in prison.
But after President Suharto fell from power, President B-J
Habibie agreed to a referendum on East Timor's future, and
Mr. Gusmao was transferred from prison to house arrest. He
was released a few days after the results of the August 30th
referendum became known.
Reports say U-N Secretary General Kofi Annan has tapped a
senior Brazilian diplomat, Sergio Viera de Mello, to
administer East Timor in its transition to independence.
22-Oct-1999 06:48 AM EDT (22-Oct-1999 1048 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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