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Timor Group Won’t Give Up Weapons

June 20, 1999

DILI, Indonesia (AP) _ A pro-independence leader in East Timor said Sunday his followers will not surrender their weapons as long as Indonesian troops remain in the troubled territory.

Sunday was scheduled to be the first day of a disarmament period in advance of an Aug. 8 referendum that will let East Timorese choose between independence and autonomy within Indonesia.

Violence between pro-independence and pro-Indonesian militias has increased as the U.N.-sponsored vote nears. On Friday both sides signed a joint communique aimed at ending violence.

But David Ximenes, coordinator of the Resistance Council of East Timor (CNRT) in the East Timor capital Dili, rejected any disarmament as long as Indonesian troops are present and said his group would only hand its weapons over to the United Nations.

Under Friday’s deal, disarmament is scheduled to run through July 5 for both guns and sharp weapons.

The violence has led to warnings the historic vote could be postponed in the former Portuguese colony, which Indonesia annexed shortly after invading in 1975.

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