|Subject: RT: Suharto on E Timor
Date: Sat, 17 Apr 1999 08:47:20 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Suharto Says Fair Indonesia Elections 'Difficult' 12:43 a.m. Apr 14, 1999 Eastern
TOKYO (Reuters) - A climate of violence and fierce competition threatens the fairness of Indonesian general elections in June, former president Suharto said in an interview published Wednesday.
Spreading violence and the presence of dozens of new political parties will make holding fair elections ''difficult,'' the former political strongman said in a Jakarta interview with Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun.
It was the first interview Suharto has given since leaving office last May. His youngest son is currently on trial on graft charges.
He blamed detained guerrilla leader Xanana Gusmao, who urged a popular insurrection last week, for bloody clashes between pro-independence forces and Jakarta loyalists that have rocked East Timor since.
``The Indonesian government, in an effort to swiftly solve the problem (of East Timor), has given its people the choice of independence or autonomy, and has also provided Gusmao with chances to solve the problem,'' he was quoted as saying.
``But he has merely called for fighting against the country, becoming the root of the problem,'' Suharto said.
Indonesia invaded the territory in 1975 and annexed it in a move not recognized by the United Nations. More than 200,000 of its people have died under Indonesian rule.
Suharto said it had been the wish of East Timor to join Indonesia, not the other way around, and that the country ``was not able to refuse them.''