|Subject: AU: Canberra 'bothers' Jakarta
Date: Sat, 10 Jul 1999 16:54:17 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
The Australian 9 July, 1999
Canberra 'bothers' Jakarta
>From DON GREENLEES in Dili
AUSTRALIA'S troop build-up in Darwin had exacerbated tensions in East Timor and demonstrated Canberra needed to be "more sensitive" to the impact of its policies on the climate in the rebellious territory, a high- ranking Indonesian official claimed yesterday.
Ending a three-day visit to East Timor, Foreign Ministry director-general Nugroho Wisnamurti also rejected the need for a second delay of the UN-organised self-determination ballot because of concerns over violence and intimidation.
Mr Wisnamurti, one of the key negotiators of the self-determination agreement, accused the UN Assistance Mission in East Timor of bias in favour of independence and urged it to take steps to overcome doubts about its neutrality among pro-Jakarta groups.
Referring to the build-up of troops in the north, he said Canberra should ensure the planned "popular consultation" in East Timor was not seen as being "dominated by Australia".
"We are a bit bothered about the news coming from Darwin about the concentration of forces there and the speculation . . . about a peacekeeping force being established in East Timor," he told The Australian.
His comments came as the Indonesian Government announced Foreign Minister Ali Alatas, armed forces chief General Wiranto and a team of senior ministers would visit East Timor on Monday to assess the situation there.
Also announcing his intention to travel to Dili was popular Muslim leader Abdurrahman Wahid, who said yesterday the aim of his visit would be to reconcile warring factions.
There is growing concern over whether recent acts of harassment and violence against UN personnel and the local population could derail the ballot, in which East Timorese will be asked to vote for independence or autonomy within Indonesia.
The UN is warning of another delay in the ballot if security does not improve to allow the start of voter registration on Tuesday.
Returning from a three-day visit to Jakarta, UNAMET head Ian Martin hinted yesterday at a postponement in the start of registration.
"We have to see a real improvement in the security situation, not only in regards to our own staff but, most importantly, all the East Timorese who have come forward to register," he said.
But Mr Wisnamurti said the situation in East Timor was not as bad as it had been portrayed and did not warrant a further delay in the referendum.
Meanwhile, Joao Tavares, the most senior pro-Jakarta militia commander, has promised to respect all previous peace accords and has appealed to the pro-independence Falintil guerillas to do likewise.