Subject: JP: 'Military reluctant to disarm militias in West Timor'

Jakarta Post September 20, 2000

'Military reluctant to disarm militias in West Timor'

YOGYAKARTA (JP): Harold Crouch pointed out that the government will continue to face difficulty in disarming pro-integration militias ensconced in West Timor without the full cooperation of elements of the military.

Crouch, who is also director for the Indonesia Project at the International Crisis Group (ICG), noted that elements within the military were still reluctant to support the disarmament of the militia.

"It may not be difficult for the military in the level of district command (Kodim) to disarm the militiamen, but for the government in Jakarta it is difficult," he told reporters on the sidelines of a seminar entitled 'Democratic Consolidation' at Graha Sabha Pramana hall at Gadjah Mada University here.

Despite the obstacles at hand, the Australian National University political scientist however urged the government to continue its efforts to solve the problem.

He said the first agenda the government must undertake is to persuade all army elements to stop aiding the militia.

Crouch's comments came after United States Defense Secretary William Cohen issued a strong warning on Monday that Indonesia must resolve the refugee issue and disarm militias.

Cohen warned that Indonesia could be facing a suspension of international aid if it fails to do so.

Separately in Jakarta, former Indonesian Military spokesman Maj. Gen. Sudradjat pointed out that the government must take steps to observe the resolution, despite the complexity of the problem.

"It's part of the risk of being a member of the international community," he remarked during a discussion at The Habibie Center.

Sudradjat, who is currently an expert staff member at the Ministry of Defense, further warned of the destructive consequences of an embargo, including the military embargo currently imposed.

"If in the next year the embargo on spareparts for equipment is still imposed then our Hercules (transport planes) and F-16 (fighter planes) will not be flying," he said.

Former justice minister Muladi warned that the government has to take the threat of an embargo seriously.

"Like it or not the world, including the Security Council, is dominated by the superpowers," he remarked during a discussion at The Habibie Center on Tuesday.

While trying to accommodate the demands of the UN Security Council Resolution, the Indonesian government must also take diplomatic measures to ensure that it is not imposed.

Nevertheless he asserted that Indonesia should also be critical of the UN move.

"We should issue a strong protest as to why the resolution was passed without an objective examination of the situation," he said.

A similar tone of restrained defiance was also expressed by People's Consultative Assembly Speaker Amien Rais who said that if international powers impose a sanction then Indonesia should be ready to face it.

"Why not!" Amien retorted when asked if the country was ready to face such a situation.

"Look at Malaysia. Pak Mahathir is in fact getting respect for his assertiveness. Look at Iran and Libya, they are steadfast in their position and gain respect," he added.

Amien asserted that Indonesia with its 210 million population should not falter just because a U.S. Defense Secretary says something.

"It's gone too far, and cannot be tolerated," he said referring to Cohen's remarks.(44/jun/mds)

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