Sat, 11 Sep 1999

Annan tells Indonesia to accept outside help

UNITED NATIONS (Agencies): United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Friday that martial law has failed to restore order in East Timor and urged Indonesia to accept foreign military help.

His announcement came on the heels of the United States' suspension of military ties with Indonesia.

"The time has clearly come for Indonesia to seek help from the international community," he told a news conference.

"If it refuses to do so, it cannot escape the responsibility for what could amount, according to reports reaching us, to crimes against humanity," Annan said as quoted by AP.

Meanwhile U.S. President Bill Clinton after suspending military ties with Indonesia, warned Friday that economic assistance could be threatened if the situation in East Timor does not improve.

Australia and the United Kingdom have also warned that they are reviewing military ties with Indonesia.

During a refueling stop in Hawaii en route to New Zealand, U.S. President Bill Clinton issued a statement aboard Air Force One accusing the Indonesian Military of participating in the violence.

"It is now clear that the Indonesian Military is aiding and abetting the militia violence," Clinton said on Friday as quoted by Reuters.

As a result of the suspension, plans to finance joint exercises and training during the coming budget year were canceled. Three Indonesian Military officers scheduled to attend a course next week at the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in Hawaii have been disinvited.

Violence broke out in East Timor following the announcement last Saturday of results of the Aug. 30 ballot which rejected greater autonomy within Indonesia. Jakarta announced on Monday a state of military emergency in the territory.

Jakarta has remained steadfast in its rejection of an international peacekeeping force.

Clinton was blunt in laying out what he saw as three explanations for Indonesia's reluctance to halt the unrest.

"Interpretation number one is they believe they can stop this madness in East Timor and they want to do it and they don't want to have to admit that they have to have help to do it," Clinton said.

Another possibility is that chaos in the Indonesian government left a power vacuum.

The third possibility, Clinton said, "is that at least some elements in the country support what is happening in East Timor" and are willing to let militia members run wild.

"In other words, they didn't like the results of the referendum and they're trying to undo it by running people out of the country or into the grave."

Indonesian Minister of Foreign Affairs Ali Alatas said in Jakarta that his government regretted the U.S. decision to suspend military ties and review economic ones.

"It's unfortunate that economic issues are tied to problems we are facing in East Timor. Economic and financial matters have a much wider implication for Indonesia as a whole."

Meanwhile in Canberra, Australia said on Friday it would review all defense ties with Indonesia due to its failure to stem violence in East Timor.

Australian defense minister John Moore also canceled a number of planned bilateral defense activities with Indonesia.

"The government will review all aspects of Australia's defense relations with Indonesia. Due to the circumstances in East Timor, the government has decided that a number of planned bilateral defense activities will not take place," Moore said.

Canberra spends about US$4.5 million a year on training for Indonesian military officers and training exercises.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard separately took it one step further, saying that he would consider breaking economic ties with Indonesia.

But Howard told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio that he had reservations because economic sanctions would hit innocent Indonesians.

In London, British Prime Minister Tony Blair issued a tough public warning for Indonesia to restore order in East Timor or face economic isolation.

Blair made public details of a letter in which he warned Indonesian President B.J. Habibie to take rapid and effective action to halt killings of civilians and wanton destruction.