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EDITIONS
East Timor Wednesday, 15 May, 2002, 12:56 GMT 13:56 UK
Profile: Francisco Xavier do Amaral
Xanana Gusmao and Xavier do Amaral
Mr do Amaral (right) admits he is no match
Francisco Xavier do Amaral has been president before - for 10 days in 1975.

Election pledges
Attract foreign investment
Develop foreign relations
Take care of veteran independence fighters
He served as East Timor's leader for the short period between Portugal's withdrawal as colonial ruler and Indonesia's occupation.

More than 20 years on, he always said that he expected to lose by a landslide to President-elect Xanana Gusmao.

But Mr do Amaral said that by standing, he was at least helping to uphold the principle of democracy by preventing a one-horse race.

Dramatic life

One of the founding leaders of pro-independence party Fretilin, Mr do Amaral was expelled from his own organisation in 1977 following a dispute over the tactics used to counter Indonesia's invasion.

Unwilling to kill him openly, he was jailed by a radical faction of Fretilin, who held him in a bamboo stockade to "starve me slowly", he told an interviewer in 1983.


If we put (forward) only one candidate it means that we have no clear idea about democracy

Francisco Xavier do Amaral on challenging Gusmao

He explained that he was worried about the impact of the constant fighting with Indonesia on the families that travelled with the guerrillas.

"They were suffering in the jungle from starvation and all kinds of diseases and I felt that if they wanted to surrender themselves they should be permitted to do so. But the other group did not agree. According to them, this was a sign of my willingness to surrender."

He spent a year dragged, tied and bound, by his captors across the mountains as they struggled to stay ahead of the Indonesian army.

Finally he was abandoned by his Fretilin guards in August 1978 when they were caught in an ambush - only to be captured by the Indonesian military instead.

He was paraded before media cameras and then flown to Bali and placed in the residential compound of General Dading Kalbuadi who was responsible for East Timor at the time.

Moved to Jakarta in 1983, Mr do Amaral was a virtual prisoner of Indonesia for 22 years.

Rehabilitated

He finally returned to East Timor in February 2000, following its vote for independence, and has been rehabilitated into Fretilin - officially cleared of any collaboration with Indonesia.

But his former party is still divided and Mr do Amaral formed a Fretilin "third way", the Association of Timorese Social Democrats (ASDT) - the name he first gave his party in 1974 before it became Fretilin.

He was backed by both ASDT and another party, Parentil, in his campaign for the presidency, and said that if he won he would focus his efforts on attracting foreign aid and developing foreign relations.

He said that he would also seek to take care of veteran independence fighters, although he stresseed that East Timor must not bear a grudge against Indonesia.


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Independence day

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See also:

04 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
26 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
09 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
21 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
30 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
30 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Links to more East Timor stories are at the foot of the page.


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