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Cablegate: Resistance Alumni Turn Out for Cnrt's First National

VZCZCXRO3337
PP RUEHPB
DE RUEHDT #0173/01 1221446
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 021446Z MAY 07
FM AMEMBASSY DILI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3485
INFO RUEHDT/AMEMBASSY DILI 2848
RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0937
RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 0996
RUEHLI/AMEMBASSY LISBON PRIORITY 0887
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0682
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 0738
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PRIORITY 0822
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 0535
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 0130

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 DILI 000173

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS, DRL
USUN FOR RICHARD MCCURRY
TOKYO FOR HANS KLEMM
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM TT
SUBJECT: RESISTANCE ALUMNI TURN OUT FOR CNRT'S FIRST NATIONAL
CONGRESS

REF: DILI 491

DILI 00000173 001.2 OF 003


1. (U) Summary: The National Congress for Timorese
Reconstruction (CNRT) held its first national congress April
28-30, under the slogan "The land has been liberated, it's time
to liberate the people!" Delegates elected President Xanana
Gusmao as the party president and Dionisio Babo Soares as its
secretary general. Congress delegates were dominated by

SIPDIS
representatives of the former CNRT, the National Congress for
Timorese Resistance, the non-partisan umbrella organization for
East Timor's independence led by Gusmao until its dissolution in
2001, but there was also a large youth component. The elected
leadership, with the exception of Soares, are all members of the
older resistance generation. Until he steps down from his
national position, Gusmao will not formally take over leadership
of the party, leaving it nominally in the hands of one of the
party's vice presidents. A key decision finalized at the
congress was that CNRT would not enter into any coalition with
other opposition parties for the purpose of the June 30
elections, despite serious discussions on this option in the
weeks preceding. CNRT's relationship with the rest of the
opposition remains a work in progress, with some unity emerging
around their joint support of Jose Ramos-Horta's presidential
bid, but resentment lingering regarding Gusmao's choice to
establish his own party rather than support the existing
opposition. The party has no detailed platform at this stage,
but has established a commission tasked with working on future
governance and policy issues. Both Gusmao and Ramos-Horta
addressed the congress in their capacities as President and
Prime Minister respectively, emphasizing national unity and the
need for all parties to work together toward common national
goals. End summary.

2. (U) The National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT)
held its first national congress April 28-30. There were a
total of 800 delegates with the right to vote, 734 from the
districts and 66 national delegates. Elections were conducted
by secret ballot, with the votes counted in the presence of all
delegates. Two lists competed for the vote, both with President
Xanana Gusmao at the top as party president, but with separate
sets of names for the remaining leadership positions. However,
the second list was regarded as mostly symbolic as the
overwhelming number of votes went to "List A". This list
included Dionisio Babo Soares as Secretary General. Soares, who
is the Timorese co-chair of the Indonesian-East Timor bilateral
Truth and Friendship Commission as well as Jose Ramos-Horta's
campaign manager for the current presidential race, has already
been serving as CNRT Secretary General, having taken on this
position provisionally when the party was formally established
last month. Other than Soares, the rest of the party leadership
are all members of the older resistance generation, and despite
the involvement of a number of women in the party's
organization, are also all men. This includes: Antsnio Costa
"Mau Hunu", Vice-President I; Eduardo Barreto "Dusae",
Vice-President II; Virgilio Margal, Vice-President III; and
Virgilio Smith "Kranek", Vice-President IV. Pending Gusmao
stepping down from the presidency, Mau Hunu is the acting party
president. As soon as Gusmao is out of office, the party will
hold an extraordinary meeting in order to officially install him
as its leader.

3. (U) The party delegates from the districts comprised
primarily former representatives of the first CNRT (National
Congress for Timorese Resistance), the non-partisan umbrella
organization of the resistance led by Gusmao until its
dissolution in 2001. There were also a large number of youth,
most of whom appeared to have no previous party affiliation.
Embassy staff also noticed a number of lower level former
Fretilin party officials, primarily suco chiefs who campaigned
for Fretilin as recently as the 2005 local elections. (Members
of Fretilin's internal opposition, the Mudansa group, were
present to observe but not as delegates.) There were also a
number of individuals of interest among the delegates,
including: the former National Police Commissioner, a Member of
Parliament formerly of the Timorese Democratic Union (UDT); and

DILI 00000173 002.2 OF 003


some members of the Democratic Party (PD).

No coalition for CNRT
---------------------

4. (SBU) An important decision made by the congress delegates
was that CNRT would run alone in the parliamentary elections,
putting the nail in the coffin of any coalition discussions.
This decision was supported by delegates from 11 of the 13
districts. In the weeks previous to the congress, discussions
had taken place concerning potential coalition combinations
among CNRT, PD, PSD and ASDT. In the end, only ASDT and PSD
signed an agreement to run together. They had hoped to have
CNRT on board, but ultimately moved ahead with their own
coalition agreement before the CNRT decision in light of the May
1 deadline for registering coalitions. There is still a
question of how relationships with other opposition parties
shape up as even without a coalition, coordinated and mutually
supporting campaigns are still possible. CNRT's relationships
with other opposition parties have been strained from the
beginning, as key opposition leaders have resented Gusmao's
decision to form his own party rather than throw his support
behind theirs. Nonetheless, the other opposition parties have
begun to deal with CNRT as a reality and possible ally rather
than an idea to which they object. Most notably, the leadership
of the largest opposition party, PD, has moved from being
hostile to CNRT (in part due to the fact that Gusmao recruited
from its own rank and file to support his new party) to engaging
in ongoing dialogue. PD's Secretary General, Mariano Sabino,
attended the CRNT congress' closing session.

Platform developing
-------------------

5. (U) CNRT has no detailed platform at this stage, but
according to decisions taken at the congress, will focus its
campaign message on: national unity, stability,
de-centralization of power, and international relations
prioritizing Australia and Indonesia, with the importance of
Portugal maintained due to historical ties and its role as a
gateway to the European Union. (Good relations with the US,
China and Japan were also mentioned as important.) In addition,
the congress established a working commission tasked with
working on future governance and policy issues. This commission
is to set up technical groups to focus on the following priority
areas: administrative reform in the government; administrative
division of the country and local power; social and economic
development of the country; reform of the judicial sector;
revision of the financial and tax system; reform of the national
parliament to increase its ability to act as a check on the
government and revise laws; natural resources management; policy
on national and foreign investment; and policy on assistance to
veterans, old and vulnerable people.

Jose Ramos-Horta appears
------------------------

6. (U) Prime Minister and presidential candidate Jose
Ramos-Horta attended the opening ceremony, where he was
enthusiastically welcomed and taken to the stage to make a
speech. He appealed to national unity and reminded the audience
to remember people like Mario Carrascalao (president of the
opposition Social Democrat Party - PSD), who as governor under
the Indonesian occupation "saved many people". He told the
participants he was there with a message of hope, "hope in a
Timor-Leste more inclusive, hope that we'll be able to overcome
this crisis as long as all of us can be more tolerant and
humble". Ramos Horta stressed that he was not there as a
supporter of the party but as a supporter of the development of
a "democratic process" and said that he wanted to pass the
message that "CNRT wasn't created to combat Fretilin as a party,
but for the combat of ideas and alternatives for the country".
He went on to say that, "Everything indicates that CNRT will be
an important political power that can create a healthy balance

DILI 00000173 003.2 OF 003


with Fretilin and the other political parties," and that
"President Xanana wants to form a Government of national unity
and of course he will also use some cadres from Fretilin...
Fretilin has good and valid elements".

Xanana Gusmao speaks
--------------------

7. (U) President Xanana Gusmao stayed away from the congress for
the first two days, but arrived late in the third day to observe
the voting process and attend the closing ceremony in his
capacity as the nation's president. He delivered one of his
long and pedagogic speeches, going back to 1974 when the
creation of political parties was first allowed in East Timor,
following the Carnation Revolution in Portugal. He noted how
this development transformed people's behavior and ways of
thinking, making old friends become enemies because they were in
different political parties. Comparing the situation of
intolerance and violence in 1975 to the present, he expressed
the need to change this approach to political competition and
appealed for an end of violence, for tolerance, and for
political parties to work together, stressing the fact that two
people being in different parties should not make them enemies.

8. (SBU) CNRT banners that appeared around Dili several days
ahead of the congress were prominently displayed at the
congress, and strongly link the old resistance network CNRT with
the new political party CNRT and clearly associate it with
Gusmao himself. The banners show side-by-side the old and new
CNRT flags, which are notably similar. Next to the old flag is
a photo of Gusmao in his FALANTIL (resistance fighter) uniform;
next to the new flag is a photo of Gusmao as President. The
slogan of the party is "The land has been liberated, it's time
to liberate the people!" Fretilin has publicly announced its
intent to legally challenge the use of the CNRT moniker in light
of its strong national historical association and has
consistently accused Gusmao of abusing his office by associating
himself with a political party. However, to date we are unaware
of any specific legal action being taken by Fretilin.
NAGY

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