Subject: Annan, U.S. Welcome Wiranto's Suspension As A Positive Move

Annan, U.S. Welcome Wiranto's Suspension

Associated Press February 14, 2000

Annan Welcomes Wiranto's Suspension As A Positive Move

SINGAPORE (AP)--U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan welcomed Monday the Indonesian president's decision to suspend his former military chief from the Cabinet as "positive."

"I'm pleased that the Indonesian government seems determined to hold those responsible accountable," Annan told reporters on the second day of his three-day visit to the city state as part of a larger Asian tour.

"What is happening in Indonesia is a very positive process," he said.

President Abdurrahman Wahid suspended Monday Security Minister Gen. Wiranto and instructed government investigators to determine what responsibility he bears for last year's violence in East Timor.

"This is to allow the process of investigation to proceed, to find out if he is truly innocent or not," Wahid explained. Wiranto denies inciting violence and human rights abuses.

The move is the latest development in a two-week standoff between the two men over whether Wiranto should quit the Cabinet. The decision means Wiranto will be temporarily relieved of his duties while the investigation is underway.

Wiranto was a protege of Indonesia's former dictator Suharto, who ruled the country for 32 years until he was ousted in 1998. He was given the post of security minister last October when Wahid took office.

Hundreds of people were killed and much of East Timor devastated in attacks by anti-independence militants following the province's vote for independence last August. Indonesian soldiers have been accused of taking part in some attacks and stepping back and allowing many others.

A separate U.N. human rights commission also has blamed Indonesia's top military brass for inciting the campaign of violence.

U.S. praises Indonesia's Wahid for dumping Wiranto

WASHINGTON, Feb 14 (Reuters) - The United States on Monday praised Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid for dumping former military chief General Wiranto from his cabinet after he was implicated in East Timor atrocities.

``This action reflects President Wahid's government's intention to seriously address charges against individuals alleged to be responsible for human rights abuses in East Timor,'' State Department spokesman James Rubin said.

``It is a significant step forward in development of democracy and the rule of law in Indonesia after decades of authoritarian rule and ignoring these key values,'' he added.

Rubin said the United States strongly supported what he called Wahid's determination to assert civilian control over the military in Indonesia, which occupied East Timor 1975.

U.S. officials have been closely watching Wahid's moves towards democracy in Indonesia as its first democratically elected president.

The Indonesian military responded to Wahid's move by giving him its backing, easing fears of a military coup.

Wahid's decision to suspend Wiranto as security minister came on the eve of a visit by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

It ended a tense two-week standoff in which the general initially refused Wahid's order to quit after U.N. and Indonesian inquiries implicated him in the bloodshed surrounding the East Timor independence ballot.

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright met Foreign Minister Alwi Shihab in Washington last month as he campaigned against a U.N. international tribunal to investigate hundreds of killings by rampaging pro-Jakarta militia before and after the vote.

She told him Jakarta had time to investigate the atrocities itself and promised him the country could look forward to a 66 percent increase in U.S. aid to $125 million this year and more in 2001 if Congress approved.

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