Dili worried indictments damaging key relations with Jakarta
- Foto epa/LUSA
Dili, Feb. 28 (Lusa) - President Xanana Gusmao, worried by the impact
of Dili's indictments of senior Indonesian officials for crimes
against humanity, held an urgent meeting Friday with other East
Timorese leaders in search of ways to safeguard critical relations
"We+ve decided to work to see if we can find a solution for all this
situation that is affecting or could affect our relations with
Indonesia", Gusmao said after the talks.
The 90-minute meeting gathered Parliament Speaker Francisco Guterres,
Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri and Foreign Minister José Ramos Horta
with Gusmao, just returned from the Non-aligned Movement summit in
"For us, relations with Indonesia are of extreme importance, not only
for current stability but also for the future of the country", Gusmao
He stressed that any initiative by Dili over the indictments issued
Tuesday by the attorney general's office would "respect the
constitution", while seeking to protect broader "national interests".
Tuesday's indictments, which were followed by another round of
indictments Friday, targeted General Wiranto, Jakarta's defense
minister and armed forces chief in 1999 when pro-Indonesian militias
rampaged during East Timor's independence plebiscite.
Indicted along with Gen. Wiranto were former Governor Abílio Osório
Soares and six other senior Indonesian army officers.
Some observers told Lusa that Gusmao's stance served as a "message"
to the United Nations that it should not try to shunt responsibility
for trying the 1999 atrocities onto Dili's shoulders.
Prio to the Dili leadership meeting, Gusmao issued a statement
saying: "I cannot accept or agree with the methods used in this
Nevertheless, the president said he accepted the decision of the
attorney general's office, which is staffed in part by UN- appointed
prosecutors, even though it had been taken in the absence of the
attorney general and while the head of state was abroad.
Gusmao, just returned from the Kuala Lumpur summit, said he had
learned about the indictments from media reports.
"I have repeatedly stated that I don't consider the international
court, and even less so one in Timor, a priority when we are faced
with such problems in this period of construction", said Gusmao.
The Timorese leader highlighted the process of the national
reconciliation in his country and said this must involve "the last 29
years and not just 1999".
"Pain felt by direct and indirect victims of the successive acts of
violence committed goes back to 1974 and not 1999".
Gusmao's communique also referred to Jakarta's efforts in the past
three years to build "relations of respect and friendship with East
It is essential to foster a good relationship with Jakarta and
ensure "intensification of dialog in all areas, including ones as
sensitive as this", he said.
Several senior Jakarta officials have slammed the Dili court's
indictments and Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda rejected the
charges, saying the Timorese court had no juristiction in Indonesia.
The speaker of the Jakarta People's Consultative Assembly, Amien
Rais, called the charges "offensive and degrading" for Indonesia.