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Sunday, August 29, 1999 Published at 19:01 GMT 20:01 UK

Habibie urges Timorese to reject independence

Supporters of independence arm themselves against loyalist militias

The following are excerpts from a speech by Indonesian President BJ Habibie on the eve of Monday's referendum in East Timor, broadcast by Indonesian TV. President Habibie urged the East Timorese to opt for autonomy within Indonesia instead of independence.

East Timor
My greetings to all of you, my fellow countrymen, wherever you are, especially those who are in East Timor.

Tomorrow, Monday 30 August 1999, all the people of East Timor will make their choice based on their conscience, namely to accept or reject a special wide-ranging autonomy status offer for East Timor.

[ image: President Habibie:
President Habibie: "Indonesians will hold hands with their brothers and sisters in East Timor"
Tomorrow is an historic day, not only for the East Timor people but for all Indonesians because the choices will affect our future and they must be taken into account for our grandchildren...

The wave of freedom for the oppressed people in the 1970s was also felt in East Timor. However, the process of decolonisation did not run smoothly as the colonial ruler left East Timor abruptly and irresponsibly, leaving our brothers and sisters on the brink of disintegration.

'Assist the process of decolonisation'

Civil war became inevitable. In such a chaotic situation, Indonesia decided to assist the process of decolonisation by ensuring the wishes of the majority of the East Timor people, which arose from their own initiative, to join their brothers and sisters in Indonesia...

[ image: Supporters of Indonesian rule will vote for the autonomy plan]
Supporters of Indonesian rule will vote for the autonomy plan
I would like to reaffirm the government's stance, in that Indonesia never has any ambition or policy to occupy any territory outside the Republic of Indonesia.

Ever since the integration of the two peoples separated by centuries of colonialism, the people and government of Indonesia have sincerely implemented the accelerated development programmes in East Timor, which was less developed compared to other parts of Indonesia...

Desire for peace

Fellow countrymen! The desire of the East Timor people to lead a peaceful and prosperous life along with their brothers and sisters in Indonesia must continue and even receive special attention from us for the future of our grandchildren.

Based on this realisation, the Indonesian government has taken a pro-active stance and exerted efforts to solve the East Timor issue...

Fellow countrymen! The Reform Development government is committed to creating a new Indonesia, a society based on law, democracy, openness, and human rights under a clean and responsible government.

Rights for Timorese

In that new society, the government is committed to provide full rights to the East Timor people so they can manage themselves within the Republic of Indonesia.

All Indonesians will hold hands with their brothers and sisters in East Timor to achieve a common ideal, namely the realisation of a just and civilised society.

To our brothers and sisters in East Timor, I would like to ask you to remain united and build a better future with the brothers and sisters in other provinces. Please convey to your relatives and friends, who still hold different views, not to waste the opportunity of the special autonomy offer.

'Common journey'

Finally, I would like to urge our brothers and sisters in East Timor, prior to the historic day for our future and destiny, to carefully ponder our common journey and historical experience, which I have tried to elaborate just now.

I would also like to urge our beloved and honourable East Timor brothers and sisters to make a responsible and wise choice based on your own conscience.

All the Indonesian people are praying to almighty God, so their brothers and sisters in East Timor are given guidelines to choose the correct path and they can continue the development which will bring a better quality of life to our grandchildren.

Once again, may I express my greatest appreciation and sympathy to all our brothers and sisters in East Timor.

May the almighty God always bless our struggle. May peace be upon you.

BBC Monitoring (, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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