Subject: AU: Dili summit vents fury at UN mission
Date: Sat, 10 Jul 1999 16:56:55 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <>

The Australian 10 July 1999

Dili summit vents fury at UN mission

A battle of wills is under way in Dili, reports Jakarta correspondent Don Greenlees

IT could almost be described as a gathering of friends for, if they didn't always get along, they at least enjoyed common interests. On a warm Dili night, the East Timor military command, Foreign Ministry officials, militia leaders and pro-Indonesia political activists shared a meal and their thoughts about the troubled territory's future.

They met in a small concrete courtyard dividing the mayor's residence from the campaign office of the pro-Jakarta Forum for Unity, Democracy and Justice.

The region's senior army commander, Major-General Adam Damiri, flew in from his Bali headquarters and gave a speech. He was joined by Major-General Zacky Anwar – the hand-picked representative in East Timor of armed forces commander General Wiranto – and local commander Colonel Tono Suratman.

Militia leaders were also well represented, as was the Foreign Ministry. The guest list included Nugroho Wisnamurti, Foreign Minister Ali Alatas's pointman on East Timor.

Some of those who attended insist there were no sinister plots hatched. Indeed, General Damiri is said to have urged the foot soldiers of the campaign for continued Indonesian rule not to be provoked.

But there was a sense of common purpose, or at least a common foe. The feeling that Indonesia was getting a raw deal from the UN, foreign governments and the foreign media was acutely shared by all. The UN Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) was the subject of common complaint.

With the capital, Dili, now starting to teem with UN-marked four-wheel drives, there is a growing sense of resentment about interference in a place that has been run by the military and a small local elite for the past 25 years. The UN's very presence is disrupting the old ways.

UNAMET is often accused of being biased, of making false public statements and recruiting too many pro-Independence East Timorese among its 500 locally engaged staff.

"It's important for UNAMET to dislodge the impression that it is biased . . . by looking into those accusations and not brushing them off," Wisnamurti, a director-general in the Foreign Ministry, said before flying out on Thursday.

Such comments illustrate a growing test of wills between Indonesia and the UN over the scheduled August self-determination ballot.

The conflicts may soon come to a head in a way that profoundly affects the whole UN operation. On Tuesday, UNAMET is due to start registering voters. Yet its officials believe security is still inadequate to do the job properly.

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan will decide in the next three days whether registration can proceed. If it is delayed, then the date of the ballot, too, is almost certain to be delayed a second time.

But this would raise the risk of the whole process being overtaken by the appointment of a new government in Jakarta less sympathetic to an act of self-determination than President B.J. Habibie.

"If the postponement of the popular consultation goes beyond the coming of the new government, which I believe will be under Megawati Sukarnoputri, for us it's better," says Jose Tavares, a Foreign Ministry official who has been given time off to campaign for integration.

"Megawati will be a strong leader and her policy will be in line with our interests here in East Timor, which is integration."

The UN will not want to be wrong-footed in this way, meaning the diplomatic battle may be about to intensify.

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