DAILY CATHOLIC     THURSDAY     June 11, 1998     vol. 9, no. 113

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

To print out entire text of Today's issue, go to SECTION ONE and SECTION TWO

EAST TIMORESE, PORTUGAL REJECT SPECIAL STATUS PROMISE

          DILI, East Timor (CWNews.com) - Thousands of East Timorese protested in the streets of Dili on Tuesday, rejecting an offer by Indonesian President B.J. Habibie to give the island-territory an unspecified status and instead demanding the right to vote for full independence.

          Indonesia invaded mainly Catholic East Timor, a former Portugese colony, in 1975 and annexed it the following year in a move not recognized by the United Nations. Habibie, who succeeded longtime president Suharto last month after violent unrest, advanced the idea of a special status for the disputed region, similar to that enjoyed by other areas. But that status does not give any political independence to the areas, only recognition of culture and religion.

          More than 3,000 students and others rallied at the state-funded University of East Timor. "We want total independence. We want to be free," protester Licinio Branco said. East Timorese activists said Habibie's offer was not enough for them to end their long-running guerrilla war. "This is not a serious proposal, and I am stating unequivocally that we reject it," Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta said in a telephone interview from Harvard's John F. Kennedy School of Government.

          Former colonial power Portugal also rejected the idea of special status as no real solution to the problem. "The declaration demonstrates the inflexibility of the Jakarta government and does not permit any progress in negotiations," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Horacio Cesar.


Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
CWN is not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

June 11, 1998       volume 9, no. 113
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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