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Subject: Muladi on options for East Timor
Date: Tue, 21 Jul 1998 17:06:06 +0100 (BST)

Antara, 21 July 1998

[It is pretty clear from this report that the idea of using the Hong Kong and other models for East Timor originates from the Indonesian government. Presented yesterday, it appeared to come from Marker. This is the kind of news management we need to beware of. Carmel]

Justice Minister Professor Muladi believes that holding a referendum in East Timor would precipitate a civil war there.

He spoke of this danger during his meeting yesterday with UN special envoy Jamsheed Marker. He said that in East Timor, there were those who favour a referendum and independence, those who want East Timor to become an autonomous province with broad powers and those wanting things to be done in stages. Asked for his own opinion, Muladi said he agreed with President Habibie that broad autonomy should be granted to East Timor.

The form of this autonomy could be modelled omn Hong Kong, Macau or the Southern Philippines. 'We can elaborate further on the form,' he said.

According to Muladi, Marker responded favourably to the idea.

Muladi also said that it was open to anyone to visit Xanana Gusmao. Muladi said that Marker was happy to know about this policy.

He also informed Marker that Xanana cannot yet be released. He has been convicted of the crime of armed rebellion, according to Indonesian laws. 'This means that the release of convicted East Timorese prisoners depends on the final resolution of the question of East Timor,' said Muladi.

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