September 1999: Indonesia rejects Australian troops
Stephen Fidler, Gwen Robinson)
military and parliament yesterday rejected Australia as a
member of a future peacekeeping force in East Timor, putting
Jakarta back on a collision course with the United Nations
and international donors.
armed forces reject Australia as part of any peacekeeping
troops," said Brig Gen Sudrajat, the Indonesian military spokesman.
said Indonesia "wants the majority of the force to come from
Asean" - the Association of South East Asian Nations.
leaders objected not only to Australia but also to troops
from the US, New Zealand and Portugal, countries they deemed
too biased in favour of pro-independence groups in East Timor.
US, Britain and Australia, as well as the UN secretary-general,
Kofi Annan, rejected Indonesia's right to influence the composition
of the force. Mr Annan insisted it was for the UN and the
security council to decide.
Bill Clinton stressed that the Indonesian military had no
say in the composition of the peacekeeping force, "otherwise
it will raise all kinds of questions about whether there will
be integrity in the force and it will also delay the implementation",
Howard, Australia's prime minister, said Canberra had been
asked by the secretary general to lead the force.
asked me a week ago and we said yes. That is appropriate,
entirely appropriate and it is also the view of the president
of the United States." When President B.J. Habibie made an
apparent about-turn last Sunday and dropped objections to
an early arrival of foreign troops in East Timor, he had appeared
to be buckling under threats of international sanctions.
only Australia has troops ready to move. By objecting to Australian
troops, Indonesia's powerful military seemed intent on buying
time for their soldiers in East Timor, warding off sanctions
until they finish a scorched earth policy that has left hundreds,
possibly thousands, dead.
Indonesia is serious about a United Nations peacekeeping force
and (one) that can get there quickly, then Australia has to
play a leading role," said Robin Cook, The UK foreign secretary,
adding that peacekeepers should be ready to start work in
about a week.
has been an upsurge of Indonesian protest demonstrations against
Australia, which diplomats presume have been at least partially
organised by the military.
a crowd ransacked an Australian representative office in Surabaya,
Indonesia's second city.
Habibie's agreement to let in peacekeepers pushed talk of
sanctions off the agenda at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation
(Apec) summit in New Zealand but Sandy Berger, the US national
security adviser, said no aid should be forthcoming until
peacekeepers set foot in East Timor.
Wolfensohn, World Bank president, yesterday said the Bank
and the International Monetary Fund would hold up any disbursements
until Indonesia cleared up a corruption scandal over government
funds paid out to Bank Bali, a private bank.
foreign ministers also agreed yesterday to impose a four-month
embargo on arms sales to Indonesia.
and Poor's yesterday placed Indonesia's sovereign and senior
unsecured foreign currency credit ratings on Credit Watch
with negative implications, citing concerns about aid and
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