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Subject: RT: Australia supports Wiranto
Date: Mon, 30 Nov 1998 11:49:30 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <etan@etan.org>

Australia extends support to Indonesia army chief 03:12 a.m. Nov 28, 1998 Eastern

JAKARTA, Nov 28 (Reuters) - Australian Defence Minister John Moore on Saturday expressed support for General Wiranto, his beleaguered Indonesian counterpart who has been under pressure to quit after security forces killed unarmed protesters this month.

``I think General Wiranto is a very competent person,'' Moore told reporters after a meeting with President B.J. Habibie.

Public pressure for Wiranto's resignation has mounted after at least 14 people died, many of them students shot by security forces firing rubber bullets, during a large anti-government demonstration on November 13.

The military has been accused of using live ammunition to quell the protest. Armed Forces spokesman Syamsul Ma'arif said on Sunday fragment of bullets were found in the bodies of some of the victims but denied they were of types used by the military.

Wiranto is also chief of the armed forces.

The demonstration was staged to reject a special session of the country's highest law-making body, the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR), which the protesters saw as an undemocratic institution.

The MPR meeting was held to ratify political laws to pave the way for general elections in 1999, promised by President B.J. Habibie whose predecessor, president Suharto, ruled for 32 years.

Suharto resigned in May amid a deepening economic crisis, mass protests and riots in which 1,200 people died in Jakarta.

Moore also said Indonesia was ``quite safe'' for Australians to visit.

``There is absolutely no reason why Australians should not come to Indonesia,'' he said.

On November 15, the Spanish Embassy in Jakarta advised its citizens to postpone trips to Indonesia following the unrest. The United States advised its citizens to delay non-essential travel to Jakarta.

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