site menu spacer Senator Mitch McConnell (D-KY)
in May 5, 1999 Congressional Record

Mr. McCONNELL. Mr. President, having just returned from Cambodia, Indonesia, Australia and New Zealand, I was impressed by how deeply concerned regional leaders were over the status and conditions in East Timor.

Although the first really democratic elections to be held in Indonesia are coming up in June, the U.N. autonomy agreement, which should be announced today, was the focus of most of my discussions. While I was in the region, there was yet another explosive round of violence which left 17 dead. There is absolutely no question that most of these attacks are being carried out by militias which enjoy military support from the Indonesian armed forces.

I do not believe these militias are directly commanded by Indonesian officers. However, I do think these militias are both encouraged and equipped by individuals in the military who oppose autonomy or independence for East Timor. There clearly are officers with a vested interest in controlling the ports and trade through Timor. These individuals have put self interest above their nation's interest.

While in Jakarta I raised these specific concerns directly with General Wiranto. I believe he recognizes that these events damage Indonesia's stability and stature. I hope he will pursue a more aggressive course in the days to come to assure this spiral of violence ends.

In the meantime, I think we should make clear we will not allow US equipment to be used to further the violence in East Timor. I also believe it is essential to deploy civilian poll watchers and police to restore calm and credibility to the election process. To accomplish this goal in a timely and effective manner, I have initiated discussions with key congressional members to add funds to the supplemental bill to support a peacekeeping presence in East Timor. I understand that the UN estimates an election team supported by civilian police observers may cost as much as $50 million. I fully expect our regional partners and Portugal to assume a leadership role in meeting these needs, but we have key interests in promoting Indonesian stability and security. I would hope we can commit roughly $10 million to this endeavor. I am convinced that our support for an international monitoring initiative administered through the United Nations Trust Fund will help ease this crisis and offer the citizens of East Timor a real opportunity for reconciliation, peace and democracy.