|Subject: KY: Megawati visits E. Timor
Date: Sat, 14 Aug 1999 12:15:00 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Kyodo August 8, 1999, Sunday
Megawati visits E. Timor Sugianto
DILI, East Timor, Aug. 8 Kyodo
Indonesian presidential front-runner Megawati Sukarnoputri arrived here Sunday for a three-day visit during which she is to meet with the U.N. mission and try to persuade East Timorese leaders to reject independence in an Aug. 30 referendum.
A special chartered flight bearing her and her entourage touched down at Comoro airport at 8 p.m.
Her spokesman, Saul Daornay of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-Perjuangan) -- which she chairs -- said earlier Sunday morning in Jakarta that Megawati was accompanied by her party's executives, which include former East Timor military chief Maj. Gen. (ret.) Theo Sjafei.
'Megawati will meet and talk with the people of East Timor and ask them to vote to remain part of Indonesia,' Daornay told Kyodo News.
But he added the visit was not for political campaigning, which is scheduled to run for eight days through Wednesday and in which only East Timorese are allowed to participate.
He said Megawati will also visit eight regional offices of the U.N. Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) -- which is organizing the referendum -- and renowned Dili Bishop Carlos Felipe Ximenes Belo.
In a July 29 speech in Jakarta, Megawati said she would accept the outcome of the August ballot. She earlier opposed incumbent President B.J. Habibie's offer to relinquish the former Portuguese territory and said it has become an 'inseparable part' of the world's fourth-most-populous country.
On Jan. 27, Habibie -- former President Suharto's hand-picked successor --said Indonesia would let go of East Timor if its people reject the wide-ranging autonomy that Indonesia has proposed.
Attacks by pro-Jakarta militias have claimed the lives of hundreds of East Timorese since then, with the Indonesian military accused of being behind the violence.
Daornay also said on Sunday that Megawati would call on East Timorese to stop the violence and work together for a peaceful solution.
If East Timorese reject autonomy, the U.N. will prepare the territory for independence, 450 years after Portugal began colonizing it and 24 years after Indonesia invaded it.
Megawati's party, which won the most seats in June 7's general elections in Indonesia, will play a major role in the country's highest law-making body -- the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) -- which will confirm the results of the U.N.-organized Aug. 30 ballot in its November general session.
Under a tripartite Indonesia-U.N.-Portugal agreement signed on May 5 in New York, if a majority chooses independence in the referendum, the MPR will have to revoke 1976 legislation which unilaterally legalized East Timor's integration into Indonesia.
Megawati is the daughter of Indonesia's founding father and first president, the late Sukarno, who led the nation's struggle against Dutch colonial rule.
Sunday's visit would be Megawati's second to East Timor this year. In her previous visit, she asserted that the problem of East Timor has not been 'integration,' but 'development mismanagement.'
During 24 years of authoritarian rule, Suharto's administration and military committed atrocities against East Timorese, causing over 200,000 deaths and leaving many in poverty.
The territory's population is around 885,000.
On Saturday, a group of seven Indonesian cabinet ministers visited East Timor, where they reiterated the government's commitment to ensuring peace for the referendum.