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Sunday, September 19, 1999 Published at 17:21 GMT 18:21 UK


World: Asia-Pacific

Gusmao prepares for government

On his way home: Xanana Gusmao before he left Jakarta

East Timor's resistance leader Xanana Gusmao came a step closer to returning to his homeland after arriving in Australia to prepare a government-in-exile.

East Timor
Mr Gusmao, released from house arrest in Jakarta almost two weeks ago, secretly left the Indonesian capital on Saturday night where he had sought refuge in the British Embassy.

A spokesman for Mr Gusmao said that he had left for Australia because of increasing fears for his safety in the city after he had started receiving death threats.

Mr Gusmao had arrived in Darwin on a commercial flight but slipped out of the airport, eluding journalists and supporters.


The BBC's Duncan Kennedy: "Mr Gusmao is thought the front-runner to govern East Timor"
The resistance leader who was jailed for life in 1992 after spending 17 years as a guerilla fighting Indonesian forces, is widely tipped to be the first head of an independent East Timor if the result of the referendum on 30 August is carried through.

Joao Carrascalao, head of the National Council for East Timor Resistance (CNRT) in Australia, said that Mr Gusmao was in Darwin and making plans for a transitional government and a delegation to the World Bank later this month.


[ image: Protests: Demonstrators attacked the British Embassy sheltering Gusmao]
Protests: Demonstrators attacked the British Embassy sheltering Gusmao
He would be flying to East Timor as soon as the international peacekeepers had made it safe to do so but would continue to be based in Darwin for the immediate future.

"The main purpose of his trip is to discuss plans for the development of East Timor," said Mr Carrascalao.

"The British Embassy could not guarantee his security and he had to leave in a hurry. But his life cannot be guaranteed in Dili.

"Darwin is very close to East Timor. Australia is a free and democratic country where we can work without the sort of pressure that you have in Jakarta."

Indonesia's President BJ Habibie freed Mr Gusmao after the vote for independence but Jakarta witnessed protest marches against Mr Gusmao with some calling for his rearrest and execution.

As the protests grew, some pasted posters on the outside of the British Embassy.



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Internet Links


Un Mission to East Timor (Unamet)

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East Timor Action Network

BBC Indonesian Service


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