Subject: AFP: Jakarta to cut down army, strengthen police force in East Timor
Date: Sat, 08 May 1999 09:20:38 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

Jakarta to cut down army, strengthen police force in East Timor

JAKARTA, May 3 (AFP) - Indonesia will reduce troop numbers and strengthen its police force in the troubled territory of East Timor, national police chief General Rusmanhadi said Monday.

"The order that I have received is to assure security in that region by expanding the number of police until it is in line with the need there," he told journalists.

He could not give a number for the proposed police reinforcements, saying the matter was under study. "What we know is that the need is quite big."

Rusmanhadi said the strengthening of the police would follow a reduction in troops but declined to give further details.

East Timor's 800,000 people will on August 8 vote in a UN-sponsored ballot on whether they accept a Jakarta-sponsored autonomy offer or opt for independence.

Under an agreement on the autonomy package and the implementation of the referendum to be signed at the United Nations on Wednesday, the United Nations will deploy civilian police in East Timor to help advise the Indonesian police before the ballot.

Officials from Australia, expected to provide the backbone of the UN civilian police, have said members might arrive in the troubled territory as soon as this week.

They have also said President B.J. Habibie agreed in a meeting with Prime Minister John Howard in Bali last week that the number of Indonesian soldiers in East Timor should be cut and the police strength boosted.

Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and annexed it the following year but the United Nations still views Lisbon as the official administrator.

Violence has grown there following Jakarta's announcement in January that it may give East Timor independence if the people there reject the autonomy offer.

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