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Monday, September 20, 1999 Published at 11:39 GMT 12:39 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Jakarta quiet as Timor force goes in

A protest in Jakarta against the power of the military

By Jim Fish in Jakarta

There has been a muted reaction in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta, to the arrival of the international peacekeepers in East Timor.

East Timor
There are signs of a growing backlash of opinion against the government and the military.

Although it has been clear for days that East Timor has been in effect lost to Indonesia, public reaction has so far been remarkably low key.

There has been another demonstration at the Australian embassy against Australia's leading role in the peacekeeping operation, but otherwise, little criticism of the government or the military for the loss of East Timor after 24 years.

That could change, though, should the demonstrations focus more sharply on the authorities.

[ image: President Habibie: Called before national assembly]
President Habibie: Called before national assembly
President Habibie too may face hostile questioning in parliament, where he is due to appear on Tuesday to give an account of his government's handling of the crisis.

The big question, though, is how the military will react to their humiliating retreat from East Timor.

There is speculation that the influential army chief, General Wiranto, may himself run for the presidency, but that decision may depend on the public reaction on the streets, and on how far the authorities can control and channel the unpredictable mood of the people.

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