Subject: AFP: Jakarta pledges action over military aid to Timor militias
Date: Sat, 14 Aug 1999 09:53:38 -0400

Jakarta pledges action over military aid to Timor militias

JAKARTA, Aug 13 (AFP) - The Indonesian government has pledged action over accusations that the military was supporting militias blamed for recent violence in East Timor, a UN envoy said Friday.

The armed forces have been criticised by the United Nations and other groups who have accused them of helping pro-Indonesian militia stir up violence ahead of the territory's August 30 self-determination vote.

Official campaigning only starts Saturday but observer groups, such as the US Carter Center, have said they have evidence the Indonesian military was supporting and arming the militias.

"This is something we take seriously, we brought it to the attention of our Indonesian delegations," UN special envoy Jamsheed Marker told journalists after a meeting of senior officials from Indonesia, Portugal and the United Nations.

"I am satisfied that measures are being taken to correct the situation," Marker said. "My impression, and I am sure that I am right in this, is that they have already issued the orders."

The Indonesian military on Friday replaced the head of the East Timor military command, Colonel Tono Suratman, just three weeks ahead of the UN-organized ballot.

Suratman was replaced by Colonel Muhamad Noer Muis, but was promoted to brigadier general and military sources said he was likely to be appointed deputy commander of the Kopassus special forces.

No immediate reason was given for the reshuffle however.

Some 450,000 East Timorese in the territory and abroad, will vote on August 30 on an offer of autonomy with Indonesia.

Indonesia has said it may free the former Portuguese colony, it invaded in 1975, if most East Timorese reject the offer.

In the latest violence, the militias attacked students in Viqueque in East Timor, killing two and injuring several others on Wednesday.

"We were reassured by Indonesia that it will do all in its capacity and to punish whoever was responsible," Portuguese chief delegate Fernandez Neves told the press conference.

Participants at the two-day meeting said the post-ballot security and ensuring a peaceful atmosphere were the main subjects for discussion.

The 25-member body East Timor consultative council will be set up. According to Nugroho Wisnumurti of the Indonesian foreign ministry, the commission will "promote peace, reconciliation, cooperation among Timorese," and will start operation the day after the ballot.

Marker said, "The important thing is, there should be an absence of threats, violence and intimidation from which ever quarter. That is the most important element."

He added that senior officials will reconvene in Portugal on August 26.

Marker said whatever the outcome of the ballot, the UN Mission in East Timor (UNAMET), which is holding the elections in the territory, will remain there after ballot day.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has recommended more than doubling the number of UN civilian police and military liaison officers in East Timor after the ballot. Jakarta has agreed provisionally.

Nugroho also said that despite international pressure, Indonesia will not let jailed East Timorese leader Xanana Gusmao personally take part in the two-week campaign from Saturday.

"Campaigning can be done in many ways, including by speaking to the public through the television. So, there are so many ways that even under the present circumstance, he can fully participate in the campaign," he said.

Gusmao, who is serving a 20 year jail term for armed insurrection, has said he will campaign through television and radio.

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