|Subject: RT: Indonesia's Megawati 'not opposed to
Date: Fri, 12 Mar 1999 18:28:01 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Tuesday March 9, 1:02 am Eastern Time Indonesia's Megawati 'not opposed to free E.Timor'
CANBERRA, March 9 (Reuters) - Indonesian opposition figurehead Megawati Sukarnoputri has assured Australia she would not oppose independence for East Timor if elected Indonesian president in November, an Australian envoy said on Tuesday.
Australia's ambassador to Indonesia, John McCarthy, said Megawati, leader of a breakaway faction of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI), made the statement in a recent meeting with Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer.
``Her view was that such a far-reaching change of Indonesian attitude should have been left to a new government in five years, it shouldn't have been taken by the interim government,'' McCarthy told reporters in Canberra.
``Her view is, however, that if the East Timorese people opted for separation in a consultation process with the United Nations she would not seek to upset such a result, were she to come to power,'' McCarthy said at a briefing on Indonesia.
Megawati recently criticised President B.J. Habibie's offer of autonomy or independence from Jakarta's rule for East Timor. Habibie has said he wants the issue resolved by January 1, 2000.
Megawati, daughter of Indonesia's late founding President Sukarno, is seen as a leading candidate for the presidency.
In early February, Megawati launched the new party she hopes will carry her into office as Indonesia's next president. Megawati launched PDI Struggle, calling on supporters to be ready for parliamentary elections scheduled for June 7.
A presidential election is scheduled for November.
Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 after colonial power Portugal quit the territory. Indonesia annexed it the following year in a move never recognised by the United Nations.
Some 200,000 East Timorese -- a third of the population -- died in the crackdown and a subsequent famine.