Subject: Horta hits at UN choice of ETimor troops

INTERVIEW-Horta hits at UN choice of ETimor troops

By Joanne Collins

DILI, East Timor, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Nobel peace laureate Jose Ramos-Horta on Wednesday criticised the U.N.'s choice of troops for its peace-keeping mission in East Timor, saying some came from countries with poor human rights records.

He singled out Jordan, accusing it of giving refuge to a former Indonesian general linked to past abuses in East Timor during Jakarta's often brutal 23-year rule.

``When you have troops from non-democratic countries, the whole notion of a peace-keeping mission to foster a civil society becomes a bit confusing,'' Ramos-Horta said in an interview.

A force of about 9,000 peacekeeping troops led by the Philippines will be deployed across East Timor, replacing a multinational force which arrived three months ago to secure the territory after a violent rampage by Indonesian-backed militias following the August 30 ballot for independence.

Ramos-Horta, a leading resistance member who returned to East Timor last month after a quarter of a century in exile, described as ``mind boggling'' the use of Jordanian troops.

``I have the greatest respect for Jordan but General Prabowo (Subianto), former head of Indonesia's special forces, Kopassus, and the most wanted war criminal in this country and in Indonesia, took asylum in Jordan. He is a close personal friend of the king and many of the top Jordanian military,'' he said.

Prabowo was sacked last year after troops under his command were linked to the kidnap and torture of opponents of his father-in-law, former president Suharto who resigned in 1998.

He has denied being involved.

Prabowo, long linked to abuses in East Timor during Indonesian rule, has since been based in Jordan.

Ramos-Horta said he feared Oecussi -- a tiny East Timorese enclave in Indonesian West Timor where the U.N. plans to deploy Jordanians -- would become more vulnerable to the Indonesian military and militias due to Jordan's link with Prabowo.

Jordan will provide 600 to 800 troops to the U.N. mission.

A spokesman for the U.N in East Timor, Diego Zorilla, said the world body might still consider an alternative to an exclusively Jordanian contingent in the enclave but said there was no reason to believe the Jordanians would not be impartial.

Ramos-Horta also questioned the use of Kenyan and Pakistani troops. ``Kenya does not have a good human rights record and Pakistan has just overthrown a democratically-elected government...,'' he said.


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