Subject: RT: Bishop Belo urges Megawati to respect E.Timor vote
Date: Sat, 14 Aug 1999 09:19:53 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

Bishop Belo urges Megawati to respect E.Timor vote

DILI, East Timor, Aug 10 (Reuters) - East Timor's spiritual leader, Bishop Carlos Belo, on Tuesday urged Indonesian presidential hopeful Megawati Sukarnoputri to respect the result of the territory's August 30 independence vote.

In a letter to Megawati, who is visiting East Timor, Belo also urged her to seek peaceful solutions to separatist rebellions in the provinces of Aceh and Irian Jaya.

``We hope Megawati will be able to respect the aspirations of the East Timorese people after the popular consultation (vote),'' Belo said in the letter, a copy of which was released to journalists after talks with Megawati in East Timor's capital.

Megawati made no statement after the meeting.

Megawati has urged East Timorese to choose to remain part of Indonesia in the vote, but she has also pledged to respect the result if they opt for independence.

Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P) won the most votes in Indonesia's June 7 general elections and she is considered a frontrunner for the presidential poll in November.

``We hope that Megawati and the PDI-P... will seek a political solution for our brothers in Aceh and Irian Jaya,'' Belo's letter said.

Although Jakarta has allowed East Timorese to vote on independence after 23 years of often brutal Indonesian rule, it has rejected calls for similar votes elsewhere, particularly Aceh in northwestern Sumatra and Irian Jaya in the far east.

Indonesia's 1976 annexation of the former Portuguese colony of East Timor has never been recognised by the United Nations.

But Aceh and Irian Jaya were part of the Dutch East Indies, the former Dutch colony which gave birth to Indonesia.

Belo also called on Megawati to release all political prisoners and reduce the role of the military in politics.

Former president Suharto, ousted amid political and economic turmoil in 1998, jailed thousands of critics and opponents, including East Timor rebel leader Xanana Gusmao, now under house arrest in Jakarta.

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