Subject: Nation: Gusmao: Golkar will intimidate ET voters
Date: Fri, 04 Jun 1999 17:40:53 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

The Nation [Bangkok] Thursday, 3 June 1999

Gusmao: Golkar will intimidate ET voters BY YINDEE LERTCHAROENCHOK

JAKARTA -- East Timor's jailed resistance leader Xanana Gusmao yesterday said he believed the East Timorese would be intimidated and coerced into voting for the military-supported Golkar Party, which has ruled Indonesia single-handedly and without any opposition challenge for the past three decades.

But Golkar's victory in East Timor in the June 7 general elections would have no influential impact on the scheduled United Nations-sponsored referendum for the former Portuguese enclave on August 8, when its people will decide whether the island should become independent or remain a part of Indonesia, he said.

Gusmao praised three major contesting political parties for their policy of supporting the East Timor referendum and the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-Perjuangan) of popular leader Megawati Sukarnoputri, who, on Tuesday, seemed to have adopted a more sympathetic view towards the enclave's future during her campaign visit there.

In an interview with The Nation at the residence of his house arrest, Gusmao said that although the East Timorese resistance movement had no policy to boycott the Indonesian general elections and did not prohibit the people from participating in them, he knew that the people there did not want to take part because they are ''more concerned'' with the UN referendum on the island.

But with the ''big and strong'' presence of the Golkar structure at the local administrative level and the lingering ''trauma'' from the past five months of killings and intimidation, carried out by pro-integration militia forces armed by the Indonesian military, the people of East Timor would be forced to vote for Golkar, he said.

''During the last five months, there were many killings and intimidation. Because of the intimidating climate, we guess the people will be forced to participate in the elections. And because we know that Golkar still has big and strong structures at the local administrative level, they will force the population to vote. I think Golkar will win there,'' Gusmao said.

''It will be very, very paradoxical that here in Jakarta, nobody accepts Golkar during their campaigning. But in East Timor, the result of the election will be for them,'' he added.

He said the UN presence in East Timor to monitor the general elections was too small ''to ensure the security'' of the people against all forms of intimidation and coercion. ''You must understand that the East Timorese people have been living in trauma for the past five months. It will be very difficult for the people to avoid it [voting for Golkar] because they are afraid of reprisal. I guess their participation will be bigger than we can imagine,'' he said.

The 53-year-old resistance leader said he believed the East Timorese would boycott the general elections -- the first supposedly free and fair polls since 1955 and the first after the fall in May last year of Golkar-supported president Suharto -- ''if there is no violence, intimidation against them''.

Commenting on the East Timor policy of key political parties which are predicted to win in the general elections, Gusmao said the National Mandate Party of reformist Amien Rais, the National Awakening Party of popular Muslim leader Abdurrahman Wahid, and the former ally of Golkar -- the United Development Party -- had supported the referendum.

He said ''there are still many speculations'' over the PDI-Perjuangan's position. But in her statement made on Tuesday in the East Timorese capital of Dili, Megawati ''began to go in the right direction'' -- meaning she seemed to have reversed her earlier stance that East Timor is a part of Indonesia, said Gusmao.

''She already stated that they [Indonesia] have to face reality and that she agrees that there is an agreement between Indonesia, Portugal and the United Nations. Although in her view, it is better for East Timor to still be a part of Indonesia. We see in the statement that she began to go in the right direction,'' he said.

The Timorese leader said the resistance did not expect any political parties to support the enclave's independence. ''In principle, if they support the referendum, that is enough because from the beginning of the war [in 1975] we have been asking for a eferendum,'' he added.

The United Nations still recognises East Timor as a territory of Portugal, and has condemned Indonesia for its invasion of the territory in 1975 and its annexation of it in 1978.

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