Indonesia: October 18, 1999


General Wiranto withdrew from the competition for the vice presidency. The military is still a major power in Indonesia, but at least there is no chance of another general becoming a legitimate head of state. Indonesia says it will resettle 160,000 refugees from East Timor who do not want to return. These are the men who supported Indonesian rule, and their families.

October 17; The assembly delegates elected last June will meet this week to decide who the new president of Indonesia will be. The interim president, B J Habibie, although tainted by his relationship with the deposed dictator Suharto, did well in the elections and, now has asked general Wiranto, the head of the army, to be his running mate (as vice president.) There is a strong possibility that the same corrupt bunch that ran Indonesia for thirty years could get back into power via a coalition government. This would also mean, if Wiranto accepts, that the army would remain a major force in running the country. Habaibie saw his relations with the army worsen when he announced the East Timor independence vote earlier this year, without consulting the army. Meanwhile, Interfet has brought peace to East Timor, even though hundreds, if not thousands, of armed anti-independence militiamen are still in East Timor.

October 16; Australia has launched a drive to recruit more soldiers so that it can rotate the forces now deployed on East Timor after they have been there nine or ten months.--Stephen V Cole

October 16; A five man Interfet patrol was ambushed by twenty heavily armed militiamen in the southwest part of East Timor, near the West Timor border. The ensuing firefight left three militiamen dead and three wounded. None of the Australian troops involved were injured. The Interfet troops noted that the anti-independence militiamen apparently had some military training. Although most of the militiamen seem to be giving up the fight, there is still a hard core that continues to resist and this may produce a long, drawn out guerilla war. South Korean troops have arrived in East Timor, bringing Interfet strength up to about 3,000. In the Maluku islands, one policeman and as many as nine civilians were killed during continued clashes between Christians and Moslems. In Irian Jaya, tensions continued and the army sent another infantry battalion to keep the peace.  

October 15; There were more demonstrations, and violence, in the capitol Jakarta, as tensions over the lack of prosecution for corrupt officials of the deposed dictator Suharto. At least three police, and dozens of demonstrators, were injured. Interfet patrols continue to find evidence of anti-independence militiamen still operating in East Timor. Shooting is still heard at night in and around Dili. 




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