Subject: JP: Book says Habibie close to declaring war

Jakarta Post October 30, 1999

Book says Habibie close to declaring war

JAKARTA (JP): Former president B.J. Habibie came close to declaring war against Australia over East Timor, according to a recently released book.

In his biography, launched on Thursday night, former coordinating minister for political affairs and security Gen. (ret.) Feisal Tanjung described how Habibie was angered by a statement made by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan which gave Indonesia 48 hours to restore order in East Timor or else a multinational force would take over.

"Responding to the statement, president Habibie said it offended his pride and the republic's sovereignty," Feisal writes in his book entitled "Terbaik Untuk Rakyat Terbaik Bagi ABRI" (The Best for the People the Best for the Armed Forces).

The biography was released to celebrate Feisal's 60th birthday which fell on June 17.

Among those present at the book launching were Feisal's successor Gen. Wiranto, new TNI chief Adm. Widodo A.S., Army chief of staff Gen. Subagyo Hadisiswoyo, Navy chief Adm. Achmad Sutjipto and National Police chief Gen. Roesmanhadi, Antara reported.

Feisal said Habibie told Kofi Annan Indonesia would take any risks, including war, if Australian troops aboard warships 12 miles off Indonesian waters alighted in East Timor.

"If we have to go to war our nation will stake everything it has, because East Timor remains part of us. Our country loves peace but loves freedom and sovereignty more," Habibie said as quoted by Feisal.

The UN warned Indonesia after it declared martial law in East Timor on Sept. 7 in an attempt to quell the violence that had devastated the former Portuguese territory after its people voted for independence in the UN- supervised ballot on Aug. 30.

Habibie finally accepted the UN's plan to dispatch multinational peacekeepers led by Australia on Sept. 12, upon Indonesian Military (TNI) Commander Gen. Wiranto's recommendation. The peacekeeping force took over the authority to restore order and security on Sept. 27.

Rumors over a military coup circulated in Jakarta at the time Indonesia changed its stance on the peacekeeping force.

In his book Feisal also makes known his opinion on former president Soeharto's choice of Habibie as his vice presidential running mate last year.

Feisal said he recommended Soeharto pick Habibie, who eventually took over after a wave of students demonstrations brought Soeharto down. (amd)


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