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Tuesday, October 19, 1999 Published at 18:41 GMT 19:41 UK

World: Asia-Pacific

Indonesia sets East Timor free

Long fight for Timor independence

Indonesia's parliament has endorsed East Timor's independence vote, paving the way for the half-island territory to become the world's newest nation.

The August referendum result was accepted by "all factions", according to the assembly's chairman, Amien Rais.

Indonesia has ruled East Timor since invading the former Portuguese colony in 1975.

East Timor
The assembly's decision to ratify East Timor's independence vote came on the day United Nations peacekeepers found the first evidence of a mass grave in the territory.

More than 20 bodies were discovered in the town of Liquicia, 20 miles west of the capital Dili.

UN peacekeepers will now take over in the territory from the Australian-led international peacekeeping force Interfet.

[ image: Dr Mahathir wants Malaysia to take command]
Dr Mahathir wants Malaysia to take command
Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said his country wants to command the new peacekeeping operation.

And Australia has said it wants one of Indonesia's neighbours in the Association of South East Asian Nations (Asean) to lead the peacekeeping force.

But Timor independence leader Jose Ramos Horta said on Friday that the East Timorese would not accept an Asean state as leader of the UN transitional administration because they had been "accomplices of Indonesia".

The Indonesian assembly endorsed the August referendum despite rejecting the record of President BJ Habibie, the man who allowed the vote to go ahead.

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