13 Feb 02 12:30
East Timor: Gusmao Rejects Fretilin ‘Pressure’ To Run as Independent
Independence leader Xanana Gusmao said Wednesday he had not yet decided whether he would run for the presidency of East Timor in April 14 elections, adding that he would not bow to “pressures from anyone” to stand as an independent candidate.
“I´m not even interested in being
president”, Gusmao told Lusa in an interview in Dili. “My only preoccupation
is to see a democratic system established here and for people to believe
With 10 days left to the deadline for formalizing presidential candidacies, Gusmao reiterated that he would not run as an independent nor as a candidate of the dominant Fretilin party, which he once led.
Asked if would consider running with the backing of one or more opposition parties, the charismatic leader of East Timor´s resistance to Indonesian rule said he was “studying a decision”.
“I´m free of preconceptions, of everything. I will make my choice but without feeling that I´m being pressured”, he stressed.
Gusmao´s comments followed the disclosure that Fretilin´s two senior leaders had written to him, insisting that he run for the presidency either as an independent or with the backing of a supra- partisan national commission.
The letter, dated Feb. 10 and signed by Chief Minister Mari Alkatiri and Constituent Assembly Speaker Francisco Guterres, cautioned Gusmao that if his candidacy took any other form it risked creating political “frustrations” and potential divisions.
The letter, a copy of which Lusa obtained in Dili Wednesday, was also sent to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the territory´s UN administrator, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and East Timor´s two influential Catholic bishops.
“I´ve already told Fretilin that I won´t accept. I don´t want Fretilin to owe me anything nor do I want to owe Fretilin anything...I am free to decide”, Gusmao told Lusa.
Gusmao, who abandoned Fretilin´s leadership in 1987 to assume a supra-partisan resistance role, underlined past differences with the party, including its decision not to form a “government of national unity” after its overwhelming victory in last August´s constitutent assembly elections.
Fretilin won 55 of the assembly´s 88 seats.
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