Subject: Some E Timorese Fear Megawati's Ascension May Be Negative

Associated Press July 24, 2001

Some E Timorese Fear Megawati's Ascension May Be Negative

DILI, East Timor (AP)--Megawati Sukarnoputri's ascension to Indonesia's presidency could end efforts to bring to justice those responsible for the destruction of East Timor and increase tension at the territory's border, lawyers and activists said Tuesday.

Many were concerned about the close relationship between the new president and the Indonesian military, which was responsible for much of the violence when East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia in 1999.

Human rights activists said Megawati's election could threaten the security of the territory, which shares a land border with Indonesia. Militia gangs opposed to independence still operate in the area and have attacked U.N. peacekeepers stationed there.

"The largest group included in our suspect list for human rights abuses are the (Indonesian) military," said Aniceto Guterres, director of the territory's Human Rights Foundation. "But because the military support Megawati, I think she will try to protect them."

"Megawati could also support military activity on the border," he said.

The warnings come despite messages of support sent to Megawati from independence leaders Xanana Gusmao and Jose Ramos Horta after her election by Indonesia's national assembly Monday.

"I am now pessimistic those in the military responsible will be brought to justice," said human rights lawyer Aderito de Jesus Soares.

Megawati, who served as vice president during Wahid's 21-month rule, has refused to meet East Timorese political leaders and United Nations administrators who frequently visit Jakarta.

Eurico Guterres, a notorious militia leader wanted by the United Nations on charges of war crimes, joined Megawati's party after he fled East Timor in 1999. He is now the head of her party's paramilitary branch in Jakarta.

However, East Timor's newly established army played down possible threats from a Megawati government.

"If there was a problem on the border, it would be a problem for the whole international community, not just for East Timor," said Lt. Col. Pedro Klamar Fuik.

East Timorese political leaders said they thought it unlikely that Megawati would try to reoccupy the territory which Indonesia invaded in 1975 after Portuguese colonial rule there collapsed.

"Indonesia has officially recognized East Timor as a sovereign country. Megawati cannot change this," said political leader Fernando de Araujo, who spent six years in jail in Jakarta during the Indonesian occupation.

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