Subject: The Australian: Suharto camp accused of funding militia

The Australian September 14, 2000

Suharto camp accused of funding militia

By Don Greenlees, Jakarta correspondent

FORMER Indonesian defence minister Juwono Sudarsono has warned that militias in West Timor are being funded by associates of the ousted president Suharto and conflict could drag on indefinitely unless East Timorese leaders engaged in genuine reconciliation, including pardons for militia figures.

Mr Sudarsono, who lost his cabinet seat in a reshuffle three weeks ago, said the immense difficulty Indonesia faced in dealing with the militia problem meant that the international community, in concert with Jakarta, needed to find non-military solutions.

"The core issue is how do you get the East Timorese who are now in refugee camps to return to East Timor and be given jobs and space . . . with some prospect for becoming accepted as citizens," he told The Australian.

"We need a massive international commitment by the UN and other countries to get a comprehensive solution on the ground."

Indonesian vice-president Megawati Sukarnoputri will today lead ministers in talks in Bali with the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor and the National Council for Timorese Resistance (CNRT).

It follows a cabinet meeting on Tuesday to discuss the fragile security situation in West Timor, where three foreign workers from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees were murdered by militia last week. The co-ordinating minister for political and security affairs, Lieutenant-General (ret) Susilio Bambang Yudhoyono, said after the meeting that the Government regarded a planned UN Security Council mission to Indonesia as "inappropriate".

Despite the rejection of the security council delegation, Indonesia wants a bigger international commitment to help pay for 130,000 refugees in West Timor camps to be resettled elsewhere in Indonesia if they chose not to return to East Timor.

But Mr Sudarsono predicted a long-running problem with diehard supporters of East Timor's integration with Indonesia unless efforts are made to resolve some of the underlying issues, which he said included "tribal, sub-tribal and family" conflicts.

On the question of a long-term solution, he said East Timorese independence leaders may have to go further in enticing pro-integration elements back and giving them guarantees of their place in the new East Timorese nation.

"I think they will have to accept some degree of pardon to all these people, otherwise there will continue to be problems," he said.

"We are being challenged by the residual power of Suharto and some of his cronies who may be financing some of the rogue elements in the militia and part of the army. That's a big problem," he said.

Defence lawyers for Mr Suharto yesterday confirmed their client would not appear at the second session of his $1 billion corruption trial scheduled to open today, because of health problems.

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