Subject: IO: Xanana fears chaos after Timor vote
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 1999 12:15:40 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

Indonesian Observer 22nd July 1999

Xanana fears chaos after Timor vote

Reuters JAKARTA — Detained East Timor resistance leader Jose Alexandre ‘Xanana’ Gusmao has said he fears the military will try to spread chaos and instability in East Timor if the bloodied territory chooses to break from Jakarta’s rule.

Speaking on Tuesday night, he pledged to do his best to maintain stability and prevent revenge attacks against pro-Jakarta groups if East Timor opted for independence at a UN-supervised ballot scheduled for next month.

Xanana dismissed reports that Indonesia feared violent reprisals against Jakarta loyalists in East Timor if the territory chose independence and that it planned to evacuate them.

The risk of post-ballot violence, Gusmao said, came not from independence supporters but from the Indonesian Defense Forces (TNI).

"That is our fear. We are very, very afraid of the post-ballot time," Xanana said at the Jakarta bungalow where he is held under house arrest. "We’re afraid of action taken by TNI, considering we’ll be disarmed, we won’t have any means to defend ourselves."

Xanana said he feared the army could try a similar strategy if it was forced to leave East Timor in an effort to save face and retrospectively justify its often brutal occupation.

"I think their strategy is to enter East Timor after the ballot to create instability, to renew the old strategy of ’75," he said. "I think that the international community has to foresee possibilities like that, and we can only ask for more pressure... to stop the chaos made by TNI."

President B.J. Habibie reversed decades of Indonesian policy in January when he said East Timor would be offered independence if it rejected wide-ranging autonomy under Jakarta rule. But independence activists say the armed forces are determined to keep their grip on East Timor, and accuse them of giving training and weapons to pro-Jakarta militias that have killed scores of civilians and attacked UN personnel.

The United Nations is still deciding whether the ballot can go ahead as planned on August 21 or 22, given the militias’ terror campaign.

Xanana said he believed armed forces chief General Wiranto did not have full control over the military and was unable to rein in rogue elements who wanted to block independence. Despite guarantees from Wiranto, violence has not been stopped in Timor.

"I want to believe Wiranto, but I... believe also that he has no absolute control over his men," Gusmao said.

He said that if East Timor won independence: "We will do everything to keep stability — political, economic and social stability."

Pro-Indonesian groups would be invited to participate in the building of a new country and there would be no reprisals, Gusmao said. But the recent activities of the military and militias had opened fresh wounds that would make reconciliation harder.

"If I am afraid, if I worry about something, it is the new wounds created in the last months," he said.

"Yes, it is a problem. But our experience in 23 years has shown us that with time... our people will accept that it is important to forget everything, it is important to look to the future. They have to be able to forgive."

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