Subject: JRH on Wiranto and Pol Pot

Also: Indonesian on death charges runs for president

BBC Monitoring International Reports

April 21, 2004

LENGTH: 622 words


21 April

(Presenter Sen Lam) (Golkar candidate for the Indonesian presidency) Gen Wiranto claims he did his best to prevent bloodshed when local militias, armed and organized by the Indonesian military, went on a bloody rampage against pro-independence East Timorese in 1999. In his biography, Wiranto lists peacemaking in East Timor among his achievements.

Di Martin asked East Timor's foreign minister, Jose Ramos Horta, for his reaction to Gen Wiranto's nomination.

(Ramos Horta) Well, I would say obviously it's going to be an incredible embarrassment, you know. Some heads of states in the world with far less damaging background are ostracized, are not invited to certain countries, so let alone someone like Gen Wiranto.

(Martin) From your knowledge of international affairs and looking at Indonesia, do you think Wiranto, as president, would be prevented from travelling to another country?

(Ramos Horta) Very likely that many countries would not welcome him to visit. It would be far too costly, too controversial for them to do it. And that means embarrassing for Indonesia.

(Martin) Like which countries? Can your share that?

(Ramos Horta) Well, the United States for one. The European Union countries. Australia, maybe. So it's going to be very delicate for Indonesia to handle, if (emphasized) in the unlikely event that Wiranto, very unlikely event that Wiranto would win.

On the other hand, there are other candidates, obviously - President Megawati, highly regarded, Gen Bambang Yudhoyono, highly regarded - so it doesn't mean that Wiranto has much of a chance to be elected.

(Martin) On the question of Gen Wiranto and his popularity in Indonesia, can you understand that?

(Ramos Horta) It seems that, you know, Pablo Escobar - you remember, the drug leader in Colombia - was also very popular with some poor people in Colombia. So I'm not surprised that certain characters like Gen Wiranto are popular with some people in Indonesia.

(Martin) Considering it's not unusual that a domestic electorate does not consider international opinion when it chooses its own leader, do you think this is not so surprising, perhaps? Considering that Wiranto is an attractive figure, he's a strong figure, he is seen as a leader at a time, in uncertain times in Indonesia?

(Ramos Horta) Sure. Pol Pot of Cambodia was also a strong leader, and Pinochet of Chile was a strong leader, Marcos of Philippines a strong leader, and maybe Wiranto will be a strong leader.

(Martin) Do you think you could work with him in bettering future relations between East Timor and Indonesia?

(Ramos Horta) We have to wait and see, the result of the elections. Then we will see who we have to work with.

(Martin) Sure, of course that is yet to be decided. But could you work with Gen Wiranto?

(Ramos Horta) Well, it would put East Timor - as it would put Australia and the European Union countries, the United States - in an awkward situation, to say the least, and would put Indonesia in an even more awkward situation if Wiranto were to, hypothetically, to win the elections in Indonesia. It will be of course far more embarrassing, far more delicate for Indonesia in how it's going to handle it.

For us, we are free, we are independent, we have a great relationship with most countries in the world. In less than two years we have established diplomatic relations with almost 100 countries, so we will be fine. It just would feel sorry for such a great and proud nation which is the Republic of Indonesia.

(Sen Lam) East Timor's foreign minister, Jose Ramos Horta, speaking there to Di Martin in Melbourne.

Source: Radio Australia, Melbourne, in English 1005 gmt 21 Apr 04

) BBC Monitoring

Times Newspapers Limited The Times (London)

April 22, 2004, Thursday

Indonesian on death charges runs for president

Richard Lloyd Parry

THE selection as a presidential candidate of a former Indonesia general charged with crimes against humanity dismayed human rights groups and neighbouring countries yesterday.

Troops under the command of General Wiranto, who uses only one name, killed 1,400 people in 1999 in East Timor.

Jose Ramos Horta, the East Timorese Foreign Minister and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, said that a win for Mr Wiranto in the presidential election in July would cause great damage to Indonesia.

"Obviously it's going to be an incredible embarrassment," he said. "Some heads of state in the world with far less damaging background are ostracised, are not invited to certain countries, let alone someone like General Wiranto."

The non-governmental East Timor Action Network said: "Wiranto must stand trial not stand for office. He is responsible through acts of omission and commission for the gravest violations of human rights in East Timor and Indonesia."

A year ago, a joint East Timorese and United Nations court in Dili, the East Timorese capital, indicted him for crimes against humanity. "Wiranto is the enemy of humanity," Jose Luis Oliveira, head of Yayasan Hak, East Timor's leading rights group, said yesterday. "If he is elected president, then it is a total failure of democracy in Indonesia."

Alexander Downer, the Australian Foreign Minister, would not comment on Mr Wiranto's candidature on the ground that criticism by a foreign government might boost his popularity.

In a result that took the country by surprise, Mr Wiranto was elected as the official candidate of Golkar, the political party founded by the former dictator General Suharto. He beat Akbar Tandjung, the parliamentary Speaker, by 315 votes to 227, placing him among the front-runners for the presidential election on July 5.

He stands a good chance of beating the incumbent President Megawati Sukarnoputri, whose popularity has plummeted since she led opposition to President Suharto in the late 1990s. But he will struggle to beat Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the favourite for the presidency and another former general.

As a young officer, Mr Wiranto was General Suharto's aide-de-camp and became Commander of the Armed Forces. He won wary respect for his forbearance in dealing with the 1998 street protests that forced President Suharto from power, but his blackest day came the following year, when East Timor voted for independence in a United Nations-sponsored referendum after 23 years of illegal occupation by Indonesia.

After an unsuccessful campaign to intimidate Timorese voters into staying with Indonesia, his soldiers went on a two-week rampage, burning down every town in the country, killing independence activists and laying siege to the unarmed UN mission in its compound in Dili.

The US State Department has put the former general on a watch list, which means that any application he makes for a US visa must undergo special scrutiny in Washington.

Among ordinary Indonesians these issues are less important than the economic and political uncertainty that has taken hold since the end of the dictatorship six years ago.

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