|Subject: BBC: Rebel leader pledges to end violence
Date: Sat, 17 Apr 1999 08:54:15 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
[Excerpt: The BBC Jakarta Correspondent, Jonathan Head, says some sources say the Indonesian armed forces commander, General Wiranto, admits he could disarm the militias - the implication being that he does not want to. ]
BBC Web Site Friday, April 16, 1999 Published at 20:53 GMT 21:53 UK
Rebel leader pledges to end violence Pro-Indonesian militia is accused of killing dozens
The imprisoned East Timorese rebel leader Xanana Gusmao has promised to order his men to stop launching attacks on Indonesian targets inside East Timor in order to try to restore peace to the territory.
Mr Gusmao made the pledge when he met the United States Assistant Secretary of State Stanley Roth in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.
The promise follows a call Mr Gusmao made last week to East Timorese to take up arms to defend themselves. Indonesian authorities have demanded that he personally retracts the statement.
Mr Roth said the United States was extremely concerned by the escalation of violence in East Timor.
However, he failed to give any specific assurance from the Indonesian Government that it would stop the activities of army-backed paramilitary groups who are accused of killing dozens of civilians in recent weeks.
The United Nations' special representative on East Timor, Jamsheed Marker, has told the BBC the Indonesian authorities have agreed in principle to a UN presence in the territory.
He said he hoped full agreement could be reached next week.
Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and annexed it the following year, a move never recognised by the United Nations. Last January, President BJ Habibie's offered independence for East Timor.
Mr Gusmao was jailed for 20 years for armed insurrection after his capture in 1992, but was moved to house arrest in February to allow him to play a greater role in talks on the future of the former Portuguese territory.
Militias plan display of strength
The pro-Indonesian militias say they plan a series of rallies in the Timorese capital, Dili, over the weekend, as a display of strength.
The spokesman for the militias said they planned to arrest known campaigners for independence and to force pro-independence sympathisers to resign from the civil service.
Indonesia insists it still has the right to arm the groups.
The BBC Jakarta Correspondent, Jonathan Head, says some sources say the Indonesian armed forces commander, General Wiranto, admits he could disarm the militias - the implication being that he does not want to.
Our correspondent says that could be because he disagrees with President BJ Habibie's offer of independence, or because he is unwilling to confront rogue elements in the military who are arming and training the militias.
Wave of killings
Tension between separatist and pro-Indonesian forces has grown in East Timor since January.
The violence escalated when the government offered the region independence if the East Timorese rejected a UN-sponsored autonomy package.
Last week, there were reports of an alleged massacre by militias supporting continued rule by Jakarta in the town of Liquica.