|Subject: RT: Wiranto says yes to military liaison
Date: Fri, 04 Jun 1999 17:35:04 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Monday May 31, 9:16 am Eastern Time FOCUS-East Timor vote plans move up a gear (Adds Wiranto comments, U.N. official's meeting with Gusmao)
By Dean Yates
JAKARTA, May 31 (Reuters) - Preparations for East Timor's August vote on independence stepped up a notch on Monday with the dispatch of several hundred Indonesian police to the troubled territory and a round of U.N. meetings in Jakarta.
Separately, Indonesian Armed Forces commander General Wiranto said Jakarta would allow the U.N. -- which is overseeing the August 8 ballot -- to send military liaison officers to East Timor to monitor security ahead of the vote.
Wiranto said the number of liaison officers likely to be deployed in East Timor was unclear but that Jakarta had proposed 45.
``These people can see directly what is being done by the Indonesian security forces which is a serious and transparent effort to act neutral,'' he told reporters.
The former Portuguese colony has been racked by violence since Indonesia reversed its policy of 23 years in January and said it would consider independence for the territory.
On Monday, the head of the U.N. mission organising the vote, Ian Martin, met Foreign Minister Ali Alatas and detained Timorese resistance leader Xanana Gusmao in Jakarta. He said both meetings focused partly on security.
Martin declined to comment on whether the ballot was on course but said the U.N. wanted to ensure the 800,000 people of East Timor were able to ``express themselves in the fairest possible climate'' and security for the vote would be a priority once he reached the East Timor capital Dili.
He heads for East Timor on Tuesday, the same day Megawati Sukarnoputri, one of the strongest contenders for the leadership of Indonesia after national elections on June 7, is scheduled to visit.
To beef up security in East Timor, the government dispatched 452 police by ship on Monday, a move that followed Jakarta's decision to withdraw some troops and send in additional police.
National Police spokesman Brigadier-General Togar Sianipar said up to another 2,500 police might be sent to complement the 4,000 already in East Timor.
The U.N. already has personnel in East Timor to organise the vote and is expected to deploy around 280 civilian police.
Both Wiranto and Alatas on Monday vigorously denied allegations the military was arming pro-Jakarta militias or standing by while they rampaged through Dili and other towns.
``It's patently untrue to accuse them of that. It's very difficult sometimes for the police to know beforehand where the next provocation will occur,'' Alatas said.
The Indonesian national elections -- the freest in 44 years and the first since the fall of disgraced president Suharto a year ago -- have bred little excitement in East Timor.
Voter registration in the territory is the lowest of all Indonesia's 27 provinces but all eyes will be on Megawati from the wildly popular Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) when she campaigns in the capital Dili on Tuesday.
Megawati has questioned the constitutionality of President B.J. Habibie's offer of independence for East Timor, which Indonesia invaded in 1975 and annexed the following year.
Indonesia's rule is not recognised by the United Nations or most of the international community.
A PDI-P official in East Timor said that although Megawati preferred the alternative of greater autonomy within Indonesia, she would abide by the outcome of the U.N.-organised vote.
The daughter of founding president Sukarno, Megawati is also expected to meet Nobel prize winner Bishop Carlos Belo, the spiritual leader of East Timor, during her three-hour visit.