Sat, 11 Sep 1999

Time 'not right' for UN peacekeeprs

JAKARTA (JP): Indonesian Military (TNI) Commander Gen. Wiranto asserted on Friday that he was not against the idea of a United Nations peacekeeping force in East Timor, as long as the situation and timing were appropriate.

"It is very highly sensitive for such a force to enter the territory (now) because a number of native East Timorese still hold a deep emotional reaction against UNAMET," Wiranto said.

"Such (emotion) will be shown toward incoming peacekeepers."

"We're open for further discussion on the matter (peacekeeping forces) and to talk on when will be the right time for such a force to be deployed to the territory," he added.

Speaking to journalists after meeting a five-member UN Security Council delegation, Wiranto said he had explained the situation to them and stressed the need for the Security Restoration Operation Command in East Timor to do their work.

The Command under the leadership of Maj. Gen. Kiki Syahnakri, who has full authority over the territory under a state of military emergency, is tasked with bringing back law and order and stopping the anarchic situation which erupted last week.

According to Wiranto, he has informed the UN mission that since the imposition of martial law, the situation was "gradually returning to normal".

The mission met Wiranto on Friday before a planed trip to East Timor on Saturday.

Wiranto praised Syahnakri, whom he said had done well in just a brief period, for steadily decreasing the level of violence.

Speaking about the calamitous circumstances surrounding the announcement of the ballot results in East Timor, Wiranto said: "What happened in East Timor as an emotional outburst and expression of disappointment by proautonomy supporters."

Nevertheless, he warned that sending UN forces at this juncture would be counterproductive to the ultimate end of achieving law and order in the shortest possible time.

"Our military personnel are still welcomed by all levels of East Timorese," Wiranto said. (emf)