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Thursday, 25 April, 2002, 06:06 GMT 07:06 UK
Megawati 'to attend' E Timor ceremony
Megawati (right) with lower house speaker Akbar Tanjung
Megawati is under pressure not to go
Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri is planning to attend East Timor's independence celebrations next month, according to a top minister.

Legislators have called on her to shun the ceremony in the fledgling territory, which broke free from Indonesia's often brutal rule after 24 years.

Megawati herself was opposed to East Timor's UN-sponsored independence poll, held in November, 1999.

East Timorese leaders have said Megawati's attendance at the celebrations would be an "eloquent" sign of how far relations have improved since Jakarta-backed militias went on the rampage after the independence vote.

Symbolic

Indonesia's Chief Security Minister, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, told reporters: "President Megawati is planning to attend providing there are no extraordinary things from today until May 20 which could change the plan.

"Megawati's presence would be political symbol from Indonesia. Indonesia is certain that Indonesia needs good relations with East Timor."

The speakers of the lower and upper houses, Akbar Tandjung and Amien Rais, have both said Megawati should not go.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will declare East Timor independent in a lavish fireworks ceremony as the clock strikes from midnight into the first minute of 20 May.

The territory's President-elect, Xanana Gusmao, has said he will personally guarantee Megawati's safety if she attends.

See also:

23 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
East Timor maps border with Indonesia
18 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
East Timor leaders look to future
17 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
E Timor warned of challenge ahead
04 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
Gusmao calls East Timor refugees home
26 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
Australia pledges $3m to East Timor
25 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
E Timor, Indonesia sign accords
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