Subject: AN: Battalion 744 to Replace Indon Troops on ET Border


July 29, 2003 9:34pm Antara

Mataram, W Nusa Tenggara, July 29 (ANTARA) - Battalion 744 of the military command of Indonesia's East Nusa Tenggara province will be permanently stationed at the border shared by Indonesia and East Timor, a local military chief has said.

"The number of peacekeeping troops from different Indonesian provinces commissioned at the border between East Nusa Tenggara's Belu district and East Timor, will be reduced in stages and will be replaced by Battalion 744 troops," chief of the provincial military command, Col Moeswarno Moesanip, said here Tuesday before leaving for Kupang district.

Moesanip was here to attend the transfer of post of chief of the West Nusa Tenggara military command from Brig Gen Suseno Yudho Prawiro to Col Soeparto S on Monday.

He said the battalion's troops, who once served in East Timor when the territory was still Indonesia's 27th province, would be billeted in a new dormitory in Belu.

East Timor officially seceded from Indonesia in October 1999, as a consequence of the pro-independence camp's victory in a United Nations-organized ballot held on Aug 30 that year.

East Timor, which gained full independence on May 20, 2002, integrated with Indonesia in 1976 but the UN never recognized the integration process.

The reduction of the number of Indonesian troops at the border is the policy of Indonesian military leaders in line with the reduction of peacekeeping troops in the Democratic Republic of East Timor, he said.

"The Army chief, in his directives, said the priority in keeping security at the border areas is the unit under the Wira Sakti (East Nusa Tenggara) military command," he added.

On illegal markets thriving along the border between Belu and East Timor, Moesanip said it is not only the responsibility of the Indonesian military but also other relevant parties.

It has been reported that illegal trade activities following the secession of East Timor from Indonesia in 1999 continued to increase.

"Due to the problem, farmers in Belu have switched from agriculture to trade," Moesanip pointed out.

He said his side has repeatedly suggested that East Nusa Tenggara's provincial government, especially Belu's district administration, open legal markets soon to cope with the problem.

On smuggling activities at the border, he said the Indonesian military cannot solve the problem alone.

The border between East Nusa Tenggara and East Timor stretches 281 km, where the Indonesian military has set up only about 66 security posts.

Moesanip said the security situation at the border also depends on the participation of people living in the area.


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