14 Feb 02 12:34
East Timor: Fretilin Leader Offers Gusmao ‘Unconditional’ Presidential Backing
The president of East Timor´s dominant party, Francisco Guterres, told Lusa Thursday that Fretilin would give Xanana Gusmao “unconditional” support in April 14 presidential elections, regardless of what form his candidacy might take.
Guterres, who is on a visit to Lisbon in his capacity as speaker of Dili´s Constitutent Assembly, said, however, that as a “national figure” he doubted Gusmao would stand for the presidency with the backing of opposition parties.
“I accompanied (Gusmao) for 24 years in the mountains” during the guerrilla resistance to Indonesian occupation, Guterres, also known as Lu-Olo, said. “I was always his subordinate and I have the firm conviction that he will accept” to become “the first president of the republic”.
Guterres´ remarks came one day after Gusmao, who abandoned Fretilin´s leadership in 1997, reacted angrily in Dili to what he said were Fretilin “pressures” for him to run as an independent.
In comments to Lusa, the revered resistance leader said he had not yet decided whether or not to stand for the presidency.
But he rejected outright the possibility of running as an independent or as a Fretilin candidate, adding that he was “studying” the possibility of presenting himself with the backing of opposition parties.
Guterres said Fretilin, which overwhelmingly won last August´s constituent assembly elections, had publicly “committed itself” to backing Gusmao for the presidency and would “fulfill” that pledge.
BD: FRETILIN - Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor / Frente Revolucionaria do Timor Leste Independente - A collection of recent speeches, documents, statements, news and reports
BD: Recent news re Mr Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão