Subject: AFP: Wiranto's nomination could create international problems, Timor warns

Also: Rights groups dismayed as indicted ex-general wins nomination

Wiranto's nomination could create international problems, East Timor warns

MELBOURNE, Australia (AFP): The decision by Golkar Party to nominate former military chief General Wiranto as its presidential candidate could lead to international relations problems for the country, East Timor warned here Wednesday.

Wiranto, who has been indicted in East Timor for crimes against humanity, won a vote early today to stand as Golkar's candidate for the July 5 presidential poll.

East Timor's Foreign Minister Jose Ramos Horta, who is visiting Melbourne, said if Wiranto won the presidency, Indonesia may face difficulties working with other countries.

"It would put East Timor, it would put Australia, the European countries, the United States in an awkward situation to say the least and it would put Indonesia in an even more awkward situation if Wiranto were to...win the elections in Indonesia," Ramos Horta said.

"We have to wait and see the result of the election and then we will see who we have to work with."

He said if Wiranto were elected president it was likely he would be prevented from traveling to some countries.

He predicted countries like the United States, the European Union and perhaps Australia would not welcome Wiranto.

"It would be far too costly, too controversial for them to do it.

"That means (embarrassment) for Indonesia ... it's going to be very delicate for Indonesia to handle, if in the unlikely event that Wiranto would win.

"I just would feel sorry for such a great and proud nation which is the republic of Indonesia."

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Rights groups dismayed as indicted ex-general wins nomination

JAKARTA (AFP): Rights activists expressed dismay on Wednesday after a former Indonesian military chief accused of crimes against humanity became the Golkar party's presidential candidate.

Wiranto, 57, has been indicted in East Timor for failing to curb army-backed militia atrocities against independence supporters in the Indonesian-ruled territory in 1999.

Golkar, which was founded by ex-dictator Soeharto and appears to have won this month's parliamentary election, selected Wiranto as its standard-bearer in the July 5 presidential polls at a convention early Wednesday.

"Wiranto must stand trial, not stand for office," said the East Timor Action Network, a U.S.-based group seeking justice for the 1999 atrocities.

"Wiranto is responsible through acts of omission and commission for the gravest violations of human right in East Timor and Indonesia," said its spokesman, John Miller, in a statement.

"Wiranto's rise in Indonesian politics speaks volumes about the failure of the United Nations, the U.S. and other countries to act quickly and forcefully for justice."

Wiranto described his election as a victory for party democracy, after trouncing party leader Akbar Tanjung by 315 votes to 227 in a second round of voting.

But his victory could cause concern in the United States and other Western nations because of his record in East Timor. United Nations-funded prosecutors in Dili, East Timor's capital, are seeking an arrest warrant for the ex-general.

The Washington Post reported in January that the U.S. had put Wiranto and others accused of crimes in the territory on a visa watch list that could bar them from entering the country.

Wiranto, who was adjutant to Soeharto from 1989 to 1993, says he did his best to avert bloodshed in East Timor.

Some analysts said Wiranto will still face a tough battle to secure the presidency, currently held by Megawati Soekarnoputri.

Opinion polls conducted before Golkar's convention show another former general, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, far ahead of Megawati as preferred president.

Susilo has teamed up with former welfare minister Jusuf Kalla in what is seen as another boost to his chances.

"I don't think Wiranto's chances of becoming president are very high -- right now it looks as if the Yudhoyono-Kalla combination is difficult to beat," said Sidney Jones of the International Crisis Group of political analysts.

However, prominent activist Munir told AFP that Wiranto's candidacy was a sign of a "serious threat to democracy in Indonesia."

He said it reflected the continued dominance of the "Cendana family" -- Soeharto and his relatives -- within the Golkar party, and showed that people linked to Indonesia's past problems had regained political influence.

Munir said Wiranto's candidacy could be part of a strategy to guarantee that he will never face domestic prosecution for what happened in East Timor.

"If there is a strong reaction internationally, that will strengthen his domestic political support," Munir said, adding that Wiranto's candidacy will "make things difficult for Indonesia internationally."

The ex-general's record in East Timor is unlikely to cost him much support from voters. No major Indonesian newspaper made any reference to the indictment in Wednesday's editions.


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