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Tuesday, September 21, 1999 Published at 21:32 GMT 22:32 UK

Indonesia reaction to Timor force

Doubts over the peace force's ability

Indonesian analysts are united in their wariness about the ability of the United Nations peacekeeping force to maintain the fragile peace in East Timor.

Comments in the Indonesian media on 21 September ranged from scepticism about Interfet's attitude to fears about the goodwill of the Indonesian army.

On RCTI radio Muhammad AS Hikam, of the Indonesian Science Institutes, said: "The forces, including the armed wings of the pro-autonomy camp in East Timor, are sizing each other up. Don't be too optimistic about this temporary peace."

He said pro- and anti-independence elements had been "locked in deadly conflict for 24 years", and this hardly inspired hope.

Fachry Ali, an independent political analyst, said the strength of Interfet showed how seriously the international community was taking the East Timor issue.

Asked how President BJ Habibie had so easily disengaged his administration from East Timor, Mr Ali said the president had no emotional ties to the territory and had never been involved in it.

Arrogance warning

Members of the Indonesian parliament told Antara news agency that Interfet should avoid being arrogant or provocative.

Pro-government MP Abu Hasan Sadzili said: "I hope members of the UN multinational force, especially those from Australia, will not be arrogant, because that would provoke emotions among the East Timorese."

He added that the East Timorese, because of their long experience of Portuguese colonialism, did not like colonialists.

Opposition deputy YB Wiyanjono called on the Indonesian military to withdraw all but a few officers for liaison in order to avoid conflict with Interfet.

He said Australia was "arrogant and unfriendly towards Indonesia", and highlighted attacks on the Indonesian embassy and consulates-general in that country.

He did however acknowledge that Indonesia had little choice but to withdraw.

He added that any arrogance on the part of the UN troops "could trigger new problems", while Mr Sadzili said foreign troops on various peacekeeping missions around the world had sometimes led to "disunity among the local people".

Revealing statement

The Jakarta Post newspaper said the statement to parliament by armed forces chief General Wiranto on East Timor had been very revealing of the military's likely reaction to the arrival of the peacekeepers.

The paper said the statement displayed "interesting dissimilarities between how Indonesian and UN officials view the situation in the troubled territory".

The Post pointed out that some anti-independence militia leaders, such as Eurico Guterres, were talking about partitioning East Timor further, but dismissed the idea that the army might support this.

In a comment piece the paper said: "Wiranto's statement spells out Indonesia's acceptance of the reality that it must play by universally accepted rules of international conduct if it wants to continue to be accepted as a trusted member of the world community."

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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