|Subject: AAP: Howard damns handling of Timor ballot
Date: Sat, 17 Jul 1999 09:24:14 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
7:08 pm AEST July 14 1999
Howard damns handling of Timor ballot
AAP -- Prime Minister John Howard today delivered a damning assessment of Indonesia's handling of East Timor's landmark autonomy ballot with his strongest criticism yet of the Indonesian security forces.
In his final engagement in Washington, Mr Howard also took a swipe at US policy towards China - while accusing the US of all but wrecking hopes of a breakthrough on free trade with its assault on Australian lamb producers.
In a wide-ranging speech at the Georgetown University, Mr Howard gave a pessimistic and highly critical assessment of next month's UN sponsored ballot on the future of East Timor.
"Indonesia's security forces so far have failed to provide the level of security needed for a fair ballot in East Timor," he said.
"The intimidatory behaviour of the militias in particular must be stopped."
But for the first time, Mr Howard also laid some of the blame for the violence on East Timor on the Timorese people.
"Resentments nurtured within East Timor by years of fighting are very deeply held," he said.
"East Timorese will have to come to terms with each other and take responsibility for their future - whether the vote is for autonomy as a province within Indonesia or whether the Indonesian parliament grants East Timor its independence."
Mr Howard also used his last engagement in Washington to deliver a few parting shots at the Clinton administration over its hypocrisy in preaching free trade while punishing Australian lamb producers.
"If the United States introduces trade restrictions, it is even more difficult to argue that others should open up their markets," he said.