Subject: No SE Asia Nation Can Lead UN Peacekeepers - Timor Leader

Associated Press October 15, 1999

No SE Asia Nation Can Lead UN Peacekeepers - Timor Leader

SYDNEY (AP)--East Timorese won't accept a Southeast Asian nation as leader of a future U.N. peacekeeping force, resistance leader Jose Ramos Horta said Friday.

Australia currently heads the multinational force restoring peace to the half-island province that descended into bloody anarchy after East Timorese voted for independence from Indonesia in an Aug. 30 U.N.-sponsored referendum.

A U.N-mandated peacekeeping force should replace the current force within months.

"We will not accept anyone from the Asean (Association of South East Asian Nations) countries because they're not neutral; they've been accomplices of Indonesia," Horta said.

He said that if Malaysia, perceived by East Timorese as an ally of Jakarta, commands the U.N. force, there would be civil disobedience.

"Malaysia is always on the side of Indonesia - Malaysia doesn't care about human rights," he said.

Horta, who shared the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize with East Timorese spiritual leader Bishop Carlos Belo for their peaceful campaign for independence, accused Indonesia of abducting 100,000 East Timorese and displacing 300,000 others.

The Indonesian army and navy, were responsible for the abductions, not the militia, he claimed.

He described the action as the "most extraordinary criminal act since World War II.


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