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Sunday, August 29, 1999 Published at 04:19 GMT 05:19 UK

East Timor's future: what they said

Indonesia's decision to allow the people of East Timor to determine their own political future took the world by surprise. The BBC's monitoring service looks back at some of the key statements made in the run up to Monday's referendum.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas (January 1999):
"After 22 years of sharing history with the people of East Timor, it has clearly been insufficient to prompt the East Timorese to unite with us.

So it is reasonable and wise - even democratic and constitutional - that we task the soon-to-be-elected representatives [of the Indonesian parliament] to consider whether East Timor can, in an honourable and workable manner, separate from Indonesia."

Indonesian President BJ Habibie (February 1999):
"The main thing is that, as of 1 January 2000, we do not want to be burdened with the problem of East Timor any more."

President Habibie (August 1999):

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"We want to see a reconciliation among the East Timor people themselves, so they can remain united while their grandchildren can lead a fairer, happier and more prosperous life in the future.

We are convinced that whatever decision the East Timor people make, our national unity will remain intact."

Detained East Timor resistance leader Xanana Gusmao (August 1999):
"The Timorese nation cannot be born divided and full of discord and rancour. In the national interest, and independently of previously held political views, all national citizens are called on to adopt an attitude of concord, forgiveness and tolerance towards their brothers...

"The lack of resources and the high level of illiteracy is worrying. However, this should not dampen our enthusiasm and the will to overcome underdevelopment."

Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) commander Wiranto (February 1999):
"We must disarm the two conflicting parties. Those who want to secede from the Republic of Indonesia are using arms to terrorise, intimidate and exert pressure on the people, while the international community and Bishop [Carlos Filipe Ximenes] Belo have urged ABRI to respect human rights and withdraw its troops from the territory."

Ramos Horta, Nobel Peace laureate and vice-president of the National Council of Timorese Resistance (July 1999):

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"As the Indonesian foreign minister and others travel to East Timor, they realize it is the credibility, the reputation of that newly democratic country, of that proud country that is on the line.

Indonesia is not Iraq. It is not Burma. It is a very proud country... Such a proud country with such an active membership in the world cannot afford to be seen as a pariah, cannot be seen as condoning aggression against the United Nations."

Dili Bishop and Nobel Peace laureate Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo (July 1999):
"Basically, the East Timorese have their own identity... News about East Timor has been considered a taboo. Thus, the Indonesian public does not know what is going on. The current situation is the consequence of our attitude."

Megawati Sukarnoputri, head of the opposition Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) (August 1999):
"What is most important for the East Timor people to know is that the majority of the Indonesian people want to see them as part of Indonesia."

Tito Baptista, leader of the pro-Jakarta Forum for Unity, Democracy and Justice (FPDK) (August 1999):
"If autonomy loses by 40 per cent, that 40 per cent is a lot, but it will not surrender. So there will be a small or a major conflict, but there will be one.

At that point the autonomy supporters will decide on the best way to proceed, whether to lie low for a while, but the struggle - perhaps armed, perhaps political - will continue.

We, the supporters of autonomy, might take to the mountains... If things do not go well, we will not surrender in order to be killed."

BBC Monitoring (, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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