Subject: TNI rejects proposal on land travel to/from E. Timor's Oecusse

The Jakarta Post April 16, 2002

TNI rejects proposal on land travel to/from Oecusse

JAKARTA (JP): The Indonesian Military (TNI) rejects an UNTAET (United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor) proposal that East Timorese public buses be allowed to pass through Indonesian territory to ply return routes between Dili and Oecusse, the East Timorese shelter in the Indonesian provinceof East Nusa Tenggara, an officer said on Monday.

"We cannot guarantee their (East Timorese) safety in passing through the Kefamenanu and Atambua regions (in East Nusa Tenggara)," Col. Moeswarno Moesanip, commander of the Wirasakti Military Resort Command, said as quoted by Antara in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara.

He said UNTAET had asked Indonesia to agree that passengers and cargoes of public buses or other modes of transportation from Dili to Oecusse, and vice versa, needed not be transferred to Indonesian means of transportation to pass through the Kefamenanu and Atambua regions.

"Even if Jakarta agreed to the UNTAET proposal, as a security chief in the border areas, I could not guarantee the safety of East Timorese riding their own modes of transportation," he said.

Moesanip said the Kefamenanu and Atambua regions still had populations of militant East Timorese refugees and the local security units would have a difficult time in anticipating eventualities if the UNTAET proposal was implemented.

He said Maj. Gen. Willem T. da Costa, commander of the Udayana Military Region overseeing Bali, West and East Nusa Tenggara provinces, had also rejected the UNTAET proposal which was currently being negotiated by UNTAET and Indonesia's foreign affairs ministry.

Moesanip said East Timorese buses or other modes oftransportation from Dili or Oecusse could only run up till the borders with Indonesia. At the borders, passengers and cargoes from Dili or Oecusse must transfer to Indonesian buses or other modes of transport to pass through the Kefamenanu and Atambuaregions.

In order to transfer to Indonesian buses at the borders, East Timorese would not be required to show their passports "they would be just passing through Indonesian territory," Moesanip said.

"Instead of passports, a boarding pass or some kind of ticket might do to allow them to pass," he said.

Oecusse borders Indonesia's district of Central-North Timor.

East Timorese, traveling by land or by sea from Dili to Oecusse, and vice versa, should pass the Indonesian territories in the districts of Central-North Timor and Belu, capital of Atambua regency.

Central-North Timor district chief, Hengky Sakunab, had earlier asked Jakarta through a deputy to coordinating minister for economic affairs on investment, Firman Tambun, not to make a decision that would disadvantage the Indonesian border areas.

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