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DATE=10/22/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=GUSMAO RETURNS UPDATE (L ONLY) (CQ) NUMBER=2-255359 BYLINE=GARY THOMAS DATELINE=JAKARTA CONTENT= VOICED AT: 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. (Signed) NEB/GPT/FC/KL 22-Oct-1999 06:48 AM EDT (22-Oct-1999 1048 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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