Subject: LUSA: Dili's Leaders, Border Calm Despite Jakarta's Political Upheaval

23 Jul 01 11:42 East Timor: Dili's Leaders, Border Calm Despite Jakarta's Political Upheaval

East Timor's border with Indonesia remained "calm" Monday despite political uncertainties in Jakarta, and the territory's foreign minister, Jose Ramos Horta, said Dili was determined to maintain "dialogue and strengthen relations" with the new Indonesian leadership.

A spokesman for UN peacekeeping forces told Lusa in Dili that reports from the frontier with Indonesia West Timor indicated the atmosphere was "calmer than usual".

No special alert had been ordered due to the impeachement [sic] process against Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid, Capt. Isabelito Sanchez said, adding that h[e]ightened border "vigilance" had been put in place earlier because of East Timor's ongoing election campaign.

Contacted by Lusa in Hanoi, shortly before the Indonesian legislature sacked Wahid, replacing him with Vice President Megawati Sukarnoputri, Ramos Horta expressed hope that the situation in Jakarta "stabilize for the sake of Indonesia and the whole region".

"The East Timorese leadership continues determined in a process of dialogue and strengthening of relations... regardless of who is in power" in Jakarta, he said on the sidelines of an ASEAN ministerial meeting in the Vietnamese capital.

"The sovereign will of the Indonesian people must be respected by the entire international community and I am confident that Megawati Sukarnoputri will follow the policies of dialogue and normalization of relations (with Dili) that were begun by President Wahid", he added.

Timorese leaders and the UN transitional administration have frequently applauded Wahid's pivotal role in beginning the normalization of ties with the territory occupied by Indonesia for 24 years, following East Timor's August 1999 pro-independence plebiscite.

Ramos Horta described Wahid as a statesman of "moderation, compassion and dignity", urging him to continue acting in this manner to keep his supporters from violent protest against his dismissal.

The minister of justice in Dili's UN-led transition cabinet, Gita Welch of Mozambique, said it was "premature" to say whether Wahid's fall would affect the UN and Dili's efforts to get Jakarta to try officers and officials responsible for the post-plebiscite wave of violence in East Timor.

Indonesia's "political process will influence everything else but it may not delay" the judicial process, Welch told Lusa. "Clearly, it all depends on what measures are adopted (in Jakarta) and whether these measures affect the judicial system".

SAS -Lusa-

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