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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 38 No. 22. September 11, 1975

The coup

The coup

At the beginning of August UDT carried out its coup. Under the facetious slogan of independence Now' UDT took over many of the important buildings and institutions in the capital, Dili. In the early stages they appeared to have a monopoly of arms.

The only arms in East Timor were those belonging to the Portuguese armed forces. These troops were mainly local conscripts who normally support Fretilin. Neither of the two parties was known to possess arms. UDT gained its arms by possibly two methods First, it had some support among the conscripts. The demand of independence Now' may well have won them some supporters from Fretilin. Also it is likely that UDT was receiving arms shipments from Australian right-wingers.

However, just as many, if not more, of the local conscripts went over with their arms to Fretilin. In addition Fretilin is unchallenged in its 'control' of the countryside where most East Timorese live. In the cities where there were more contacts with the Portuguese UDT has some strength but here as well Fretilin has almost unqualified support from the workers and lower middle classes. Without popular support UDT cannot hope to win the civil war.

UDT's only hope is armed intervention by Indonesia, as latest reports indicate that Fretilin has control of almost the whole of the country and is beginning to consolidate its position.