September 1999: UN shuts East Timor mission
United Nations yesterday closed its mission in East Timor
and evacuated all but a dozen staff, fearing attack ahead
of the controversial arrival of international peacekeeping
110 staff and 1,300 East Timorese refugees who had remained
in the UN compound after two earlier evacuations left Dili,
the capital, in the early morning and flew to Darwin, Australia.
Staff had feared that pro-Indonesian militia, who had taken
potshots at the compound for days, would launch a genuine
assault before UN troops could arrive.
Moore, Australian defence minister, said Australia could lead
troops into East Timor by Saturday. US and European officials
said an airdrop of aid supplies to more than 200,000 refugees
in the territory could be made even earlier to prevent famine.
doubts about the composition of the international force were
raised in Jakarta on Monday, President B.J. Habibie said yesterday
Indonesia had put no conditions on the establishment of the
force being negotiated at the UN headquarters in New York.
However, his ministers and aides urged the UN to take seriously
their concern that Australian troops would be too controversial.
don't set any conditions," Brig Gen Sudrajat, military spokesman,
told the FT. He denied he had rejected Australian troops on
live television the day before. "The (military) will not interfere
in UN peacekeeping operations policy."
troops could be put under UN command or even withdraw early,
before the scheduled secession of East Timor in December,
the spokesman said. However, the military were "reluctant"
to work with Australian troops because of "emotional sentiment"
among soldiers and people in East Timor. Diplomats suspect
the military of launching an anti-Australian campaign to delay
arrival of foreign troops, as only Australia has troops available
at short notice.
Juoro, an adviser to Mr Habibie, insisted: "We are not buying
time. It is much better if Australia is not involved. Australia
has been very rude, they called us bandits. Australia does
not distinguish Indonesia from the Indonesian military. We
are not part of them."
business executives in Jakarta were concerned about a possible
backlash against foreigners in Indonesia, particularly if
UN peacekeepers clashed with Indonesian troops.
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