Created: 5/10/1999

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indonesia: challenges facing east timor


The government's commitment to President Habibie's sudden and uncoordinated pledge to offer Easthoice between greater autonomy and quick

independence lias become less certain since the announcement in lale:

Reportingack af consensus on ihe issue among key senior officials.

Lack affirm leadership from Jakarta has encouraged civilian militias and their prointegration supporters to continue attacking independence advocates throughout the province.

Armed Forces Commander Wiranto's vow toecentagreement has not slopped prointegration militias from continuing their campaign of violence and intimidation against independence supporters, many of whom remain in hiding.

The disarming of all waning factions is crucial toree and fair ballot, but, until genuine attempts at reconciliation commence and the mMtary ends its tacit support of the militias, East Timor's security situation will remain volatile.

Indonesian and Portuguese negotiators have agreed thai the province will vote on its futureugust but, if violence continues, we cannot be confident that the polling process will take place or how orderly It wilt be.

Sustained unrest could lead UN officials to preempt the ballot in August.

A free and fair ballot will still require approval from Indonesia's newly formed nationallegislature, which may notlose vote for independence. i

Jakarta Sending Mixed Signals...

The Indonesian Governmentonsensus on how to proceed with President Habibie's public pledge in late January to allow East Timor to become independent by yearcnd if tbe troubled province rejects autonomy:

Some government ministers who previously supported independence now privately argue in favor of the autonomy option because they fear granting independence would trigger separatist outbreaks in other provinces]-


MUia the ruling UolKar party was complicating Habib'e's handling of the issue.

Foreign Minister Alatas has had lateo arguments With presidential foreign affairs adviserDewi Fortunahelped formulate Habibie's autonomyher involvement in East Timor policy. In early April, Alatas told her that she was damaging the Foreign Ministry's credibility because he and his Ministry repeatedly had to deal with repercussions from her unsanctioned statements to tbe media about the future of East Timor

Support for Habibie's East Timor initiative also appears tenuous among senior military officers, including Armed Forces Commander Wiranto, who has taken no action against the pro integration civilian militias or discipline against local military units that, if not abetting, have at the least tolerated these groups:

Wiranto has repeatedly promised that the militaryeutral force, but local commanders would have required at least tacit approval from headquarters in Jakarta to allow the militias die blatant free hand they

haveauthorities knew

in advancelanned militia rally onpril in the provincial capital of Dili, permitted it to occur, and were ineffective in curbing the violence that led to someeaths.

he military may be

swung iu manipulate toe polling process in laV< ir of the autonomy option by allowing the militias to create disturbances. The military's

Speculating on Habibie's Ulterior Motives

Habibie's sudden and uncoordinated decision to offer independence to the East Timorese ia,inimum, characteristic of his mercurial leadetship style; his continued neglect at keeping key players within the Indonesian Government in the loop on East Timor is exacerbating differences. Habibie's initiative to allow the Timorese to determine their own future may have been designed only to improve bis own short-terni poliucal prospects:

Presidential foreign affairs adviser Dewi Fortune Anwar advocated autonomy inccording io Anwar, independence was proposed to demonsuate Indonesia's democratic credentials and would be taken only if unspecified efforts to sway proindependence East Timorese failed.

Habibie has repeatedly told US and foreign officials

since his announcement in January that Indonesia has no strategic, economic, political, or cultural interest in retaining East Timor. The director of Indonesia's civilian intelligencehas close ties toin mid-March, however, that Jakarta's offer of independence was for "foreign consumption" only and did not reflect the government's true intentions, which were to ensure the province remained part of Indonesia

"|tbe President viewed his initiativemorolitical ploy designed to improve his party's prospects in tbe legislative elections in June by stifling international criticism that might benefit opponents; however. Habibie would withdraw Jakarta's acquiescence to an independence option upon securing the presidency later in the fall.

s lo kill, drive out, or intimidate to cow the general population into acceptance of an East Timor under Jakarta's control.

hat Cultivates Culture of Violence

Jakarta's mixed signals coupled with local military support have encouraged the prointegration civilian militias to canyiolent campaign against the independence movement in the lasl few months:

The armed forces has trained and provided logistic support lo many of the militia units

enablingaiuio luiues iu uueraie witn suue uegiee 01

coordination.esult, prointegrationist forces have been able to easily target independence supporters, especially in (he western districts of the province.

The militias' leaders fear retribution by the majorityand arc strongly motivated by desires to protectiheir part, many local

have vested interests with and emotional ties to the militias.

The violence has not been entirely one sided, but proindependencc guerrilla attacks against tbe military and prointegrationists have been relatively restrained, and rebels, for the most pan, did not heed Jailed rebel leader Xanana Gusmao's public call in early April for his supporters to take up arms in defense:

most of East Timor's proindependence ersrap are inlacnng any guarantee from the police for theirthe failure of rebel forces to respond to militia aggression is partly due to the fact that they are now disorganized and on the defensive.

despite his call to arms, Xanana remains

committedath ol peaceful dialogue. His Jakarta-based advisers have subsequendy directed his followers in East Timor to make

security arrangements for ballot remain vague

indonesia and portugalay signed an agreementugust as thethe autonomy ballot and paving the way for the deploymentmallmonitoring force to oversee tbe polls. these latest efforts, however,security arrangements for the ballot at the behest ofofficials allegeiscommunication

between their negotiating team and jailed rebel leader xanana ousmao led the portuguese delegation to the un talks to pay insufficient attention to tbe document on security:

the two sides failed to agree on joint disarmament by the rivalcrucial precondition to stopping the cycle of violence in the runup to the ballot. disarmament is only mentioned as something ibe recently established, but not yet operational peace and stability commission should "endeavor to achieve."

it is unclear who has responsibility to maintain security. the draft initially required the indonesian military to substantially reduce its presence in the province by july, and the local police to take sole responsibility for maintaining law and order during the ballot process- the arrangement now refers responsibility for security to the "appropriate indonesian security authorities."

habibie has agreed publicly to include an international police force as part of thebut insists obey will act ia an advisory role, not as peacekeepers, andonly to carry handguns.habibie

and armed forces commander wiranto initially tow australian trime minister howard they could accept an international force ofolice, but retreated from this number and allowed only that they would permit "an adequate number."

whatever temporary accommodations necessary to stay alive until an international forceore secure environment.

Radical elements within tbe insurgency, however, arc likely to react if civilian militias continue their attacks, despite the cease-fire signed onpril between proindependence and prointegrationist leaders and witnessed by Wiranto. One Xanana adviser insists that rebel lorces will not take action against the militias without tbe approval of the jailed guerrilla leader.

Independenceure Bel

most East Timorese would reject Indonesia's autonomy

package in ravor ol independenceree and fair ballot were held.make frequent public assertions that the vust majority ofndonesian

officials in East Timor concede it is unwreiyaiioi will result in Jakarta's favor. Proindependence Timorese could try tooycou locally of the legislative gnal the province's opposition to integration with Indonesia.

The uncertainty of Indonesia's commitment lo allowing East Timor to determine its future and the province's volatile security situation are key determinants ofree and fair ballot under UN auspices can take place in the province later this summer. Several scenarios could develop that would derail the process toward independence.!-

is Postponed. autonomy proposal, current conditions ir1

Continued violence could iudefimielYote nn the

me province comaoll,ur judgment, ihc ballot scheduledugust could be pushed back even further if Jakarta cannot guarantee the security of UN personnel deployed to the province to oversee the polls:

Continued attacks by prointcgration militias threaten to degenerate intoprotractedhas remained

tense since the cease-fire, with militias making house-to-house searches for independence supporters under cover of night The

reports of pro-integration violence outside

oi tne provincial capital, buTdetails remain vague as militia roadblocks prevent easy access to all parts of the province.

End to Serious Violence

military withdraws support from prointegration civilian mHffles to establish public tarth in its neutrality.

Reconciliation talks Involving pro Independence and prointegration leaders resume.

Rebel forces and civilian militias maintain ceasefire and disarm.

Ballot on Autonomy

and Indonesia agree to terms on security arrangements.

The ballot is widely perceived as free and fair.

The ballot outcome Is decisive in rejecting Jakarta's autonomy plan.


The legislative electionune results in new Peoples' Consultative Assembly that is willing to rescind the annexation of East Timor.

Ballot Not Viewed As Free and Fair. Expecting to winide margin, proindependcnce leaders are likely to view an outcome favoring autonomy as evidence of manipulation by prointegrationists. Conversely, prointegrationists could escalate violent attacksast-ditch response if the vote rejects autonomy and East Timor appeared poised io be granted

he UN will insistompletely secret ballot so that neither individuals be targeted for retribution on the basis of their voting pattern.

Legislature Rejects Ballot Results. Even if East Timorese reject autonomy, the newly formed Peoples' Consultative Assembly (MPR) still needs to revoke tho5 decree that integrated East Timor intoaction that will revert the provinceN-administered, non-sdf-goveming territory with Portugal as the administering power until which time it is declared independent. The assembly would find it difficult toallot that indicated an overwhehning majority of East Timorese opposed the autonomy proposal,lose vote could provide enough cause for the assembly to abort the process and retain the province without risking international condemnation. Opposition leaderhas criticized Habibie's East Timoremerge from the legislative elections in June as the leaderoalition government and not feel boundallot initiated by Habibie.r

Partition of Eastess likely option for the MPR would be to partition the province with the westerna majority of prointegrationist militias arewith Jakarta and the eastern portion becoming independent Proindepenaence leaders, however, are unlikely to acceptompromise, and UN officials refused toimilar proposal made by prointegrationists in February,

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