Subject: Indon military urges endorsement of East Timor vote

Indonesian military urges endorsement of East Timor vote

JAKARTA, Oct 6 (AFP) - Indonesia's military on Wednesday urged the country's new national assembly to endorse East Timor's independence vote and formally free the territory it invaded in 1975.

Police Brigadier General Taufiequrochman Ruki, reading out the views of the 38-strong parliamentary faction of military and police MPs said the military favored letting East Timor go.

"The TNI/Polri (military-police) faction, herewith proposes that a stand be taken to endorse the result of the popular consultation," Ruki said.

The general was refering to the UN-held ballot in East Timor on August 30 which overwhelmingly rejected an offer of autonomy under Indonesia, opting instead to break away from the country.

"This decision should of course, be followed up by handing over the handling of the territory of East Timor to the United Nations that will lead it to form its own government," he said.

The People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) must take a decision on the ballot because the annexation of East Timor into Indonesia in 1976 was endorsed by an MPR decree issued in 1978, he added.

A move to endorse the result of the poll would also "release TNI and Polri personnel ... from the dilemma" of having to accept the ballot result while the territory was still formally part of Indonesia.

The Indonesian army has been widely accused of complicity in and even orchestrating the violence which erupted in the territory after the vote.

Pro-Jakarta militias rampaged through the territory causing hundreds of thousands to flee and leaving a trail of death and destruction.

Ruki added the proposal was made "without any intention to influence the assembly of honorable members of the MPR on the government policy to hold the popular consultation."

The government of President B.J. Habibie has been widely criticized at home for allowing East Timor the option of breaking away if the people there rejected the autonomy package.

A total of 78.5 percent of East Timorese voters favored independence while 21.5 percent wanted to stay with Indonesia.

Endorsement would clear the way for an interim UN administration to take over from a multinational force which has been in place since last month seeking to secure the cities and provide vital relief to the stricken population.


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