A long journey of resistance: The origins and struggle of the CNRT

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This article covers the tortuous political journey of the East Timorese from 1974, traversing the last quarter century of brutal Indonesian occupation. It outlines the political antecedents of the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT) and assesses the leadership role of Xanana Gusmao as its president. Fretilin, the pro-independence front, formed the basis of the resistance to Indonesian occupation into the late 1970s, until it was devastated by Indonesian military repression. In March 1981, after several difficult years of reorganization, a National Conference resulted in an overhaul of resistance structure. Xanana Gusmao was elected president of the new National Council for Revolutionary Resistance (CRRN), and commander in chief of Falintil, Fretilin's armed wing. In 1987, increasingly frustrated by internal political wrangling, Xanana declared Falintil to be non-partisan and established the National Council of Maubere Resistance (CNRM), a nationalist umbrella council that he hoped would encompass all resistance forces. With Jose Ramos Horta as the special representative of CNRM abroad and a growing urban-based clandestine movement, the struggle developed a more sophisticated and international diplomatic face. This new dynamic of inclusiveness and non-partisan nationalist strategy, born with CNRM, matured with the creation of the CNRT in 1998. With an even broader support base CNRT offered voting rights to all major political parties and to nationalist, cultural, and religious groupings both inside and outside East Timor. Xanana Gusmao has recently passionately asserted CNRT and Falintil's place in the future independent Timor Loro'sae.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-18
Number of pages8
JournalBulletin of Concerned Asian Scholars
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2000

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