|Subject: AGE: Don't renege on vote, Jakarta told
Date: Fri, 02 Jul 1999 09:00:51 +0000
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
The Age [Australia] Monday, June 28, 1999
Don't renege on vote, Jakarta told
By LINDSAY MURDOCH, JAKARTA
East Timor activist and Nobel peace prize winner Mr Jose Ramos Horta has warned Indonesia it will face dire consequences if its newly elected Parliament refuses to ratify the results of a United Nations ballot to decide East Timor's future.
Mr Ramos Horta, in an emotional return to Jakarta at the weekend, said that it would be ``disastrous'' for Indonesia to renege on the international agreement signed with Portugal, which ruled East Timor for more than 400 years.
``Political leaders like Mrs Megawati Soekarnoputri have to bear in mind the huge economic and diplomatic consequences,'' Mr Ramos Horta said as he travelled to Indonesia for the first time since the country's 1975 invasion of East Timor.
Mrs Megawati, the daughter of Indonesia's first president, won the largest bloc of votes at the 7 June elections and is in a strong position to be elected president when the People's Consultative Assembly meets in October.
But Mrs Megawati, a staunch nationalist, has said she does not want to see East Timor break away from Indonesia, backing the stand of influential elements of the country's armed forces.
The President, Dr B.J. Habibie, is scheduled to take the results of the ballot to the first sitting of the new parliament in late August, which could still refuse to grant East Timor's independence even if a majority of East Timorese vote for it.
Mrs Megawati's advisers say she acknowledges the UN-brokered agreement, but she wants to try to put off a decision on whether or not to grant independence for at least two years.
During this time, Mrs Megawati believes, the East Timorese would be enjoying democratic rule and new-found freedoms and would probably change their minds and want to remain part of Indonesia.
Mr Ramos Horta said he was certain that if the ballot was ``fair enough'' an overwhelming majority of East Timorese would vote to end Indonesia's often brutal rule.
One of Indonesia's fiercest critics over decades, Mr Horta was allowed to enter Indonesia for private church-organised peace talks involving 20 representatives of pro-independence groups and those wanting the territory to remain part of Indonesia with broad autonomy.
Participants at the talks, including pro-independence leaders who have been in hiding in fear of their lives, took a break today and will resume meetings tomorrow.
Church officials said today that during the first two days of the talks representatives stressed the need for all groups in East Timor to disarm before the ballot.
But the participants apparently failed to agree on how to disarm both pro-independence guerrillas as well as pro-Jakarta paramilitary groups blamed for scores of killings this year.
Pro-independence leaders want an estimated 15,000 Indonesian troops and police in East Timor to withdraw before rebel fighters lay down their arms.
Late on Saturday night Mr Ramos Horta and about 20 other supporters held a meeting with their leader, Mr Jose ``Xanana'' Gusmao, at a former prison warder's house in Jakarta where he is being detained.
Mr Ramos Horta and Mr Gusmao had not seen each other since 1974, the year before Indonesia's invasion.