Subject: Megawati/Gus Dur support Belo's position on East Timor
Date: Sun, 19 Jul 1998 15:44:03 +0100 (BST)
Suara Pembaruan, 18 July 1998
Following a meeting in Jakarta between Indonesian opposition leaders Abdulrachman Wahid, leader of the mass-based Nadlatul Ulama, and Megawati Sukarnoputri, leader of the PDI, the two opposition leaders expressed support for Bishop Belo's position on the question of East Timor.
They said they supported his position that everything that happens in East Timor must be in line with the aspirations of the people there and for the advancement of conditions for the people.
'Bishop Belo is the guiding star for the East Timorese people. We must of course follow the wishes of the East Timorese people. And I myself am quite convinced that Bishop Belo will do whatever is best for his people,' said Megawati. Gus Dur, as the NU leader is popularly known, agreed with her.
Asked whether this meant supporting independence for East Timor or supporting the proposal for autonomy, Megawati said that this was all part of a process, as Bishop Belo explained in a seminar in Jakarta earlier in the week.
On that occasion, Bishop Belo said that the only way for a solution to be reached was for a referendum to be held. He also said that the vast majority of East Timorese are in favour of self-determination.
Gus Dur, Megawati and Bishop Belo held a meeting in Jakarta following which they issued a joint statement saying that abuses of the legal system and of the government administration in general had left the unity of the country in tatters. There had been no democratic rights and the economy had been run for the interests of a tiny minority.
Commenting on the measures currently underway to lift the country from the grave economic crisis, the three leaders expressed deep concern that the greatest impact was being felt by the common people who have been profoundly hit by the crisis. There was little confidence among people in Indonesia and indeed within the international community on the present government's ability to solve the economic crisis.
They agreed that the Indonesian people would have to push very hard for political, economic and legal reforms as the only way to create a transparent political system that reflects the wishes of the people.
In reply to questions from journalists on whether he and Megawati were planning to set up a political party together, Gus Dur said that she already has her own party. He doesn't have a political party, and nor does Belo.
We came together on this occasion, said Gus Dur, because we had wanted to have a get-together for quite some time.
Asked why Amien Rais, leader of Muhammadiyah was not present as well, Gus Dur said it was difficult to communicate with him. 'It's always very difficult to know where he is,' he said.
Asked whether the meeting between the three leaders meant that they were about to create a coalition, Gus Dur said that doing something together did not mean that they would be forming a coalition.