|Subject: SMH: Jakarta loses grip on Timor as
'recalcitrant' troops run riot
Date: Sat, 17 Apr 1999 08:55:23 -0400
Received from Joyo:
Sydney Morning Herald Wednesday, April 14, 1999
Jakarta loses grip on Timor as 'recalcitrant' troops run riot
By PETER COLE-ADAMS, Foreign Affairs Correspondent
The Federal Government believes that Jakarta has lost control of elements of the Indonesian armed forces in East Timor.
One highly placed government source warned yesterday that massive disruption could scuttle the proposed United Nations consultation with the East Timorese people on their future in July.
The source said it was still "more likely than not" the UN-organised vote would go ahead.
Australia's repeated pleas to Jakarta for the Indonesian military to impose order in East Timor has not produced any result.
Australia's Ambassador to Jakarta, Mr John McCarthy, has in the past few days made strong representations to the head of Indonesia's armed forces (ABRI), General Wiranto, Indonesia's Foreign Minister, Mr Ali Alatas, and President Habibie's foreign affairs adviser, Ms Dewi Fortuna Anwar.
The Australian Embassy in Jakarta warned yesterday that Australians without a compelling reason to stay in East Timor should leave.
The Canberra source said yesterday that the problem lay with some "recalcitrants" in ABRI's Udayana Command, headquartered in Denpasar, Bali, and responsible for East Timor, and troops in the territory, rather than with General Wiranto or the government in Jakarta.
If 15 to 30 per cent of the population were determined to stop some form of ballot to decide whether the East Timorese wanted autonomy or independence, they probably could, the source admitted.
"I don't think that is likely, but it's a possible scenario that the consultation just won't be feasible," he said. "I really don't think you can rule it out that, if there is no consultation, the Indonesian Government will just walk out ... and tell the East Timorese, 'have your civil war'.
"What is their alternative? To bunker down in East Timor? They've already got about 17,000 troops there. Do they send in another 10,000 or 15,000? They've got enough problems already."
Planning for a UN presence in the territory is nearly complete. The first elements of the team - which will inevitably include Australians - will arrive in East Timor next month if the final round of talks between the Indonesian and Portuguese foreign ministers at the UN in New York on April 22 are successful.
The UN team will have a civilian-style role, to organise the consultation process, but the source said it might be preferable to include some military people, perhaps carrying hand guns to protect themselves. Members would be dressed to identify them as UN representatives, as a confidence-building measure.
Senior officials angrily reject suggestions that the Government has not been active enough in pressuring Jakarta to pull its East Timor garrisons into line and to disarm anti-independence militias.
The Foreign Affairs Minister, Mr Downer, was publicly outspoken on Monday, telling reporters the Indonesian military were not providing adequate security to the people of East Timor and demanding that they act impartially and not be "political players".