ASIET News Updates - Wednesday July 12, 2001

ASIET News Updates - Wednesday July 12, 2001

* 100 students attack parliament complex
* Gus Dur criticizes House conclusion on shootings
* Gus Dur `will resort to backdoor dealing'
* Marsillam appointed as new Attorney General
* PDI-P to convene its own meeting of party leaders
* MPR to hold security coordination meeting
* Indonesia names Wahid foe as a suspect in graft scandal
* Cops need more money for special session
* Rift widening between Megawati and sister, says analyst
* US hopes to restore modest ties with TNI
* UNTAET chief chief warns of election problems
* UN says militia still intimidating refugees in West Timor
* Horta regrets two parties did not sign National Unity Pact
* Fretilin opens festive congress, sorrows for past ´excesses´
* Twelve dead in Aceh, new attack reported in ExxonMobil area


100 students attack parliament complex

Detik - July 9, 2001

M aryadi/HD, Jakarta -- In rejection to Trisakti-Semanggi House special committee's recommendation to bring the case into military's court not into Human Rights court, around 100 students are attacking the parliament complex this Monday.

They are coming from various elements namely Alliance for State's Violence Victim (AKKRA), City Forum (Forkot), Student of Trisakti Action Front (KAMTRI), City Front and FPPI. They came to parliament building by two metro minibus, one kopaja bus and one pick up car with full of soundsystem.

Those demonstrators regretted to special committee's decicion for not recommending Trisakti case to Human Rights' court. They judged the recommendation as the Human Rights and Law abuse. They then call on the people to issue vote of no confidence to the parliament and judged them to have taken to New Order's side.

Gus Dur criticizes House conclusion on shootings

Jakarta Post - July 11, 2001

J akarta -- President Abdurrahman Wahid shared the public's disappointment on Tuesday over the conclusions of the House of Representatives (DPR) on the Trisakti and Semanggi fatal shooting incidents in which 30 youths, mostly students, were killed.

The House's conclusion that the incidents were merely an "ordinary human rights violation" was a politically motivated finding, presidential chief spokesman Wimar Witoelar quoted the President as saying.

"The cases could not be described as pure crimes. It is proper to suspect there is a political dimension behind the incidents," Wimar quoted the President as saying during a media briefing at Bina Graha presidential office.

The President also noted the incident at the House on Monday where Sumarsih, mother of a victim of the first Semanggi killing in 1998, threw eggs at the members of the special committee after the closing of the House's plenary session that heard the committee's report.

"The President is concerned with the result of the committee of Trisakti, Semanggi I and Semanggi II and the throwing of eggs by Ibu Sumarsih," the spokesman of the President said.

Relatives of the victims, students and human rights activists, were outraged when the House failed on Monday to satisfy their demands to declare the three incidents gross human rights violations and to establish an ad hoc court to prosecute the suspects in the incidents. They also protested the committee's recommendation to try the civilian suspects at the district court, and military officer suspects at a military tribunal.

In May 1998, riot police allegedly shot dead four Trisakti students during a peaceful demonstration around the university compound. The killings triggered nationwide protests and forced president Soeharto to end his 32-year rule.

Under then president B.J. Habibie's administration, security members also killed 16 people at the Semanggi cloverleaf in October 1998. One month before Abdurrahman's election as president in October 1999, 10 others were killed during a demonstration against Habibie.

Habibie declared the four Trisakti students reform heroes but did little to find their killers. Former military chief Gen. (ret.) Wiranto protested his innocence in the three tragedies.

"Hopefully our struggles to defend human rights will not perish [with the committee's finding]," Wimar quoted Abdurrahman as saying.

Separately, Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) secretary Usman Hamid deplored the House's conclusion and described it as a victory for the military and the police in covering up their past crimes against humanity.

Usman also said the House had betrayed the decree of the People's Consultative Assembly that mandated the enforcement of law and protection of human rights. "The DPR has become the political whipping boy of TNI and the police by completely ignoring people's demands for justice," said Usman.

Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI) chairman Hendardi, also blasted the conclusions on the three fatal incidents. "They [the legislators] deserve to be called the preservers of impunity who perpetuate the policies of the New Order in protecting violators of the law," Hendardi said in a statement.

Gus Dur `will resort to backdoor dealing'

Straits Times - July 11, 2001

D evi Asmarani, Jakarta -- Political compromise, intimidation, constitutional deadlock and a divide-and-rule approach to weaken his enemies are some of the options that Mr Abdurrahman Wahid would likely turn to, so as to prevent the People's Consultative Assembly from impeaching him in August.

Political observers have already dismissed as ineffective his threat to impose martial law if no compromise is reached by July 20. Aside from lacking military support, it would only fuel Parliament's efforts to expedite the general session to impeach him.

Instead, Mr Abdurrahman would likely continue backdoor dealings with his political opponents. Said Mr Kusnanto Anggoro of the Centre for Strategic Information Studies: "The political elites are very inconsistent, they change their stance easily."

The President's team of lobbyists, which includes some of his Cabinet ministers, have been working to negotiate with leaders of major political parties to convince them to drop their plan to remove him.

If reconciliation appears distant, he could go for political intimidation by prosecuting politicians on alleged graft charges. The Attorney-General's office is already probing several MPs -- including House speaker Akbar Tandjung and Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle's Arifin Panigoro.

The move seemed to have softened Mr Akbar, Golkar Party's chairman, who said recently there was no need to speed up a special session to hold impeachment hearings.

Mr Abdurrahman could also take advantage of the constitutional deadlock over procedural matters in the special session. He had argued that the Assembly could not make him give accountability reports during the session as it was unconstitutional.

Ridep think-tank's Mr Sudjati Djiwandono said: "It is true that the Constitution says the President only gives accountability reports at the end of his term."

Political observers also noted that Mr Abdurrahman had managed to create internal rifts in some of the institutions that had shown declining support for him. His move to sack defiant Police Chief General Suroyo Bimantoro has fuelled a split within the police force between those who supported the general's leadership and those who thought the President's order should be complied with.

Within the military, the President has fuelled rifts between top officers who support him and those who oppose his move to meddle in its internal affairs.

But in the end, money politics "may play an important role in his last-ditch efforts to survive the presidency," said Mr Kusnanto.

If the Assembly votes in secret rather than openly on whether to accept his report at the August session, some politicians from rival parties could swing their vote for his camp, he said.

Marsillam appointed as new Attorney General

Jakarta Post - July 11, 2001

J akarta -- President Abdurrahman Wahid appointed on Tuesday his old friend and current Minister of Justice and Human Rights Marsillam Simanjuntak as the new attorney general to replace the late Baharuddin Lopa.

Presidential spokesman Wimar Witoelar who made the official announcement also said Minister of Defense Mahfud MD would take over from Marsillam at the Ministry of Justice while the defense portfolio would be handled by Coordinating Minister for Political, Social and Security Affairs Gen. [ret.] Agum Gumelar.

"The President believes this (reshuffle) will receive a positive public response," Wimar said. However the President has not signed the decrees on their appointments.

According to Wimar, Marsillam and Mahfud will need several days to settle things at their current posts before taking up their new roles. Wimar further disclosed that the President wanted to allow acting Attorney General Soeparman to complete his investigation of major corruption cases and other duties.

No date has been set for the swearing-in-ceremonies, however it is expected to take place within 10 days. Wimar hinted that the transfer of duties would take place before the start of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) special session on August 1.

It has been a case of musical chairs for Marsillam who is known as a former neighbor and long-time friend of the President. Abdurrahman recruited Marsillam as Cabinet secretary in January 2000. In June he replaced Lopa at the Ministry of Justice following Lopa's appointment as attorney general. Lopa died last week in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Abdurrahman and Marsillam have been friends since they were neighbors in Matraman, East Jakarta. In 1991, they established the Forum of Democracy along with other prodemocracy activists. The forum was one of the few organizations that dared to speak out against the Soeharto regime during the 1990s.

Born in Yogyakarta in 1943, Marsillam, a medical doctor by training, is no novice to politics or the law. He took part in the massive student protests that led to the downfall of president Sukarno in 1966, and received his political tutelage mostly from former leaders of the Indonesian Socialist Party (PSI), which Sukarno banned in 1960.

He later studied law at the University of Indonesia. In his thesis, he said he found traits of neofacism in the 1945 Constitution. He also read Hegel at Berkeley University, California.

Meanwhile, leading human rights lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis has been "in hiding" in Australia these last few days to duck an offer from Abdurrahman to serve in the Cabinet, friends said. Todung, a close friend of the President, had been mentioned as one of the chief candidates for the attorney general post. Until Marsilam's appointment on Tuesday, his cellphone was disconnected or he was simply not taking any calls, according to a close friend.

Lopa's death has been particularly untimely for the President who is desperately trying to win over public support with high profile corruption cases.

Commenting on his new post, Marsillam said "it is not bad that the public have great expectations, not only of me but of anyone becoming attorney general." "Yes it will be tough," he replied on his task ahead.

Separately, Mahfud said he was ready to accept the post, although he preferred to leave the Ministry of Defense after completing the new defense bill. The new bill is very strategic as, if passed, it would abolish the role of the military in politics.

When asked about his new mission, Mahfud said he would prioritize the eradication of corruption, collusion and nepotism. "My target is to clean up the conduct of judges ... especially judges who are working in big cities," Mahfud remarked.

Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri has refused to comment on the latest changes. "Ibu Megawati was not consulted ... but it's the President's right to choose ministers," Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) deputy secretary general Agnita Singadikane Irsal told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

"She's concentrating on her daily duties in the government and is less bothered with the Cabinet changes than with how the Cabinet can help her in running her daily duties," Agnita remarked.

PDI-P to convene its own meeting of party leaders

Jakarta Post - July 11, 2001

J akarta -- Officials from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) said on Tuesday they would convene a meeting of political party leaders, with July 15 identified as the most likely date.

PDI Perjuangan Secretary General Soetjipto claimed that all political party leaders had stated their willingness to attend the planned meeting.

"The meeting will be held around July 15, and its purpose is to create a sense of togetherness between political parties ahead of the special session," Soetjipto said, referring to the People's Consultative Assembly special session set to start on August 1.

The latest announcement comes on the heels of a similarly planned gathering of political leaders hosted by President Abdurrahman Wahid on Monday.

But Abdurrahman's meeting was a dismal failure, as only National Awakening Party chairman Matori Abdul Djalil arrived at Bogor Palace to attend it.

Political consultations and dialog have heated up in the past few weeks as the special session draws near. Abdurrahman has warned that if the special session goes ahead with its intention to seek a presidential accountability, he would declare a state of emergency and dissolve the legislature.

If a political compromise is not found in the coming three weeks, the special session could see the end of Abdurrahman's administration, with Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri next in line to take up the presidency.


But aides close to Megawati revealed that the PDI Perjuangan chairwoman herself might not attend the meeting of political leaders convened by her party. The aide said it was important to avoid a public misperception that she might be compromised and politically indebted to other parties, should she assume the presidency a few weeks later.

"Ibu Megawati is also the Vice President, so it would be inappropriate for her to come to such meeting. However, the possibility of holding it is still open," the party's deputy secretary general Agnita Singadikane Irsal told The Jakarta Post.

She further contended that it was important for Megawati to preserve her public image and maintain political stability in the country, thus it would be difficult for her to come to the meeting of political party leaders.

Meanwhile, PDI Perjuangan deputy chairman Mangara Siahaan said that the main items on the agenda of the meeting would likely be power-sharing between the political parties and also the selection of possible candidates for the vice presidential seat. "There is an intention to start talking about power-sharing ahead of the special session," Mangara told journalists after the party's weekly meeting.

However, he refused to say if the meeting was also designed to cement support for Megawati's ascent. "It is up to the political party leaders whether they want to support Megawati or not," he asserted.

He also announced that the party would convene a national working meeting for three days, starting on Thursday in the capital. "The working meeting would be to discuss the party's stance at the coming special session and to brief all branches across the country on anticipatory steps to be taken after the special session," Mangara said.

He further underlined that the meeting would stress the importance of maintaining solidarity during the special session. "I can assure you, if it concerns Megawati becoming president, none of the party's members will reject that, because it was the outcome of our congresses in Bali and Semarang that Megawati be our candidate for the presidency," Mangara remarked.

MPR to hold security coordination meeting

Jakarta Post - July 11, 2001

J akarta -- The People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) will hold a security coordination meeting on Wednesday afternoon ahead of the August 1 special session, Assembly Speaker Amien Rais said on Tuesday.

Amien said that the meeting, slated to take place at 2 p.m. on Wednesday, would involve Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Adm. Widodo A.S., National Police chief Gen. Surojo Bimantoro, Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Sofjan Jacoeb and Jakarta Military commander Maj. Gen. Bibit Waluyo.

"... All of us will meet tomorrow to discuss security arrangements 19 days ahead of the special session," Amien said after a session with the MPR working committee (BP MPR) as quoted by Antara.

Amien said that both the MPR and the House of Representatives (DPR) still recognized Gen. Surojo Bimantoro as the National Police chief. "As the appointment of the new National Police chief has yet to be approved by the MPR ... we still consider him (Gen. Surojo Bimantoro) as the National Police chief," Amien said.

Amien said there was no specific agenda for the BP MPR's Tuesday meeting. "If there is an urgent situation, BP MPR will convene to decide whether it is necessary to accelerate the special session," Amien said.

Indonesia names Wahid foe as a suspect in graft scandal

Reuters - July 10, 2001

J akarta -- Indonesia has named one of President Abdurrahman Wahid's fiercest political opponents, Arifin Panigoro, as a suspect in a corruption investigation, an official from the attorney-general's office said on Tuesday.

Panigoro is leader of the Indonesian Democratic-Struggle's (PDI- P) parliamentary faction and has been a key figure behind efforts to oust Wahid.

Last month, the attorney-general's office began investigating him over graft allegations relating to a subsidiary of his oil company Medco and a state-owned financial firm. "This evening, Arifin Panigoro has been named as a suspect in a case of abuse of funds ..," attorney-general's office spokesman Mulyohardjo told Reuters.

Panigoro, who has denied any wrongdoing, was not available for comment but an aide told Reuters authorities had not yet notified him that he was officially a suspect.

PDI-P, the country's largest party headed by Wahid's increasingly estranged deputy Megawati Sukarnoputri, has been instrumental in pushing for a special session of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) to hold impeachment hearings against Wahid over two financial scandals and his chaotic 20-month rule.

Prosecutors from the attorney-general's office are also investigating another Wahid foe, parliament speaker Akbar Tandjung, over another graft case.

Tandjung, head of the country's second largest and former ruling Golkar party, has been linked to a graft case involving alleged misuses of state funds by his party. Tandjung has also denied wrongdoing.

Cops need more money for special session

Straits Times - July 11, 2001

J akarta -- Jakarta's police force will need an additional 6 billion rupiah (S$1.1 million) to put in place an "all-out" security plan ahead of the People's Consultative Assembly special session. City police chief Inspector-General Sofjan Yacob said on Monday that the funds already provided by the city administration would not be enough to cover the costs of securing the session.

He noted: "An all-out security plan requires at least 25,000 security personnel ... This is not counting police informants, to be put on full alert."

Mr Sofjan said this after a meeting on security issues with top officials, including Jakarta military commander Major-General Bibit Waluyo and Governor Sutiyoso.

Rift widening between Megawati and sister, says analyst

Straits Times - July 11, 2001

L ondon -- The situation within the Sukarno family is deteriorating with a clear split between the sisters widening and "becoming more serious now", political analyst Hermawan Sulistyo has said.

He told the BBC's East Asia Today programme that more critical segments of Indonesian society had tried to get Ms Rachmawati Sukarnoputri "into their camps" against her sister, Vice- President Megawati Sukarnoputri. Mr Hermawan said on the programme on Monday that "to some degree, they"ve succeeded".

Explaining the reasons for what he saw as the estrangement between the two sisters, he said: "In the eyes of Rachmawati, Megawati is only the biological daughter of her father, while she is the real ideological daughter."

He said the country's founding President Sukarno often took a young Ms Rachmawati to political meetings and events, and trained her in politics. "So the President wanted Rachmawati rather than Megawati to be the politician," he said.

The rift between the two has been apparent ever since Ms Rachmawati refused to be involved in Ms Megawati's Indonesian Democratic Party-Struggle (PDI-P). It came under the media spotlight recently during a rally in East Java marking the 100th anniversary of Mr Sukarno's birth. There, in front of Ms Megawati, President Abdurrahman Wahid, top political leaders and thousands of people, Ms Rachmawati launched what was seen as a stinging atack on her older sister.

She warned that vital issues such as nation-building were being ignored while the country's Parliament had launched what she described as a coup d'etat -- a reference to the efforts to remove Mr Abdurrahman as President.

The BBC said that in recent months, Mr Abdurrahman had tried to woo Ms Rachmawati to his side in an effort to sow doubts and create divisions within the PDI-P over the planned impeachment of the President next month.

US hopes to restore modest ties with TNI

Straits Times - July 9, 2001

L ee Siew Hua, Washington -- US President George W. Bush's administration is seeking congressional support to restore a modest level of contact with the Indonesian military, as part of its overall policy review of a nation important to Asian stability.

The proposals are "quite modest", Mr Tim Rieser, foreign-policy aide to Senator Patrick Leahy told The Straits Times.

Officials have made the case to Congress in recent briefings that the US wants to keep certain channels open to Indonesia's armed forces (TNI) -- viewed as a unifying national institution amid the country's tumult -- without resuming full contact.

They said the US would conduct only non-lethal training, and observed that the US had cut off even minimal contacts that were of value. An example would be training for humanitarian missions.

Mr Ralph "Skip" Boyce, who will become the US' next ambassador to Jakarta, has assured members of Congress that he will personally vet every Indonesian participant in future bilateral contacts, to make sure they have not been involved in atrocities, or condoned them.

In particular, Senator Leahy's views will influence any move towards better ties with TNI. He sponsored the 1999 Leahy Amendment, which banned US military sales and training to Indonesia until the armed forces enact reforms -- including holding accountable those military elements involved in East Timor abuses.

Mr Rieser said the senator did not view contact with the TNI as a bad move, depending on the nature of the message that the administration would send. He said: "The message, as I understand it, is that we will have these contacts to support reform of the Indonesian military. If the military is not willing to reform, then these contacts would end."

One official emphasised to The Straits Times that there had not been regular, close relations with the TNI for some time, and that a fuller resumption of ties was not anticipated soon.

However, there have been fresh discussions within the US administration at the Deputy Secretary level. US officials have also visited Capitol Hill to discuss the appropriate level of contact with the TNI, while keeping in mind that the Leahy Amendment circumscribes contact. They do not want to signal wrongly that it is business as usual with the armed forces.

An Indonesian diplomat was pleased with the discussions stirring in Washington. He said: "As long as people are deliberating, then there can be progress. The problem is not only between Indonesia and the US, but also between groups in the US.

"Meanwhile, let's have cooperation on things that are not too controversial, like training the police, or having Indonesian observers at exercises. That will serve as a step-by-step normalisation of full cooperation."

The Council on Foreign Relations is releasing a report on US policy towards South-east Asia. It concludes: "The US must cease hectoring Jakarta and instead do its utmost to help stabilise Indonesia's democracy and its economy, as well as re-engage with Indonesia's military."

Council member Robert Manning told The Straits Times: "With separatist activities going on, the military seems, by default, to be the most important political element." The US has more chance to influence Indonesia, and the outlook for Asian stability, if there was more dialogue, he said.

UNTAET chief chief warns of election problems

Lusa - July 10, 2001

T he head of the UN transition administration in East Timor (UNTAET) warned Tuesday of problems that may threaten the territory`s August 30 constituent assembly elections.

"The biggest dangers for the election are ignorance, disinformation and the resulting confusion", Sergio Vieira de Mello said during an election awareness campaign stop in Gleno, 52 kms southwest of Dili. Another danger is "manipulation of the population by a minority that wants to upset democracy in East Timor, that does not want an independent East Timor", he said, in a reference to the CPD-RDTL radical group, which he did not explicity mention.

Set up by dissidents of the historic pro-independence party Fretilin, the CPD-RDTL (People`s Defense Council of the Democratic Republic of East Timor) has been accused of seeking to block the election preparation process by intimidating residents in isolated areas.

However, queried shorlty afterwards during an election awareness session attended by about 1,000 people, Vieira de Mello dropped the veiled references and openly criticized the group. "The CPD- RDTL are a group of instigators and professional agitators, sold to another cause, which is not the Timorese cause, and who represent nothing numerically", he said.

"The CPD-RDTL now has an ultra-nationalist stance. But in August 1999 it called for East Timorese to vote for autonomy [within Indonesia]", the Brazilian UN diplomat charged, before urging local residents to help authorities "neutralize small groups that remain committed to disrupting the democratic process and have nothing to offer the population".

He reminded listeners that "East Timorese democracy`s best weapon is civic education of the population, so that the electoral process does not end up causing exclusions, except of those who continue to opt for violence".

The August ballot is the territory`s first free election and comes two years after a UN-supervised independence plebiscite led to the end of Indonesia`s 24 year occupation of East Timor. The 384,000 registered voters will be choosing members of a constituent assembly, charged with drawing up the future national constitution. However, fears of an outbreak of violence among supporters of the 16 registered political parties continue to underly the election preparations.

Vieira de Mello recalled Tuesday in Gleno that the National Unity Pact signed Sunday by 14 of the 16 parties, who committed themselves to avoiding violence, was a guarantee of stability that demonstrated the "maturity of the East Timorese parties ... and will give the people what new East Timorese democracy".

UN says militia still intimidating refugees in West Timor

Associated Press - July 10, 2001

D ili -- As a UN security team toured refugee camps near Indonesian controlled West Timor's border with East Timor Tuesday, officials of the world body in Dili warned that pro- Jakarta militias were still intimidating refugees.

The UN team is in West Timor to assess whether it's safe for humanitarian personnel to return to the region where militiamen murdered three aid workers last year. The UN and aid agencies evacuated all staffers from the province after the killings, saying that the region is too unsafe for their return.

The estimated 50,000 East Timorese refugees living in camps in the province have been without international aid since the UN workers left in September, 2000. Richard Manlove, who is heading the mission, Tuesday refused to comment on the conditions in the camps.

However in Dili, East Timor's UN High Commissioner for Refugees Director Bernard Kerblat, said that very few refugees have returned in the past month from West Timor.

"These people still remain in camps where there's a fair degree of intimidation and manipulation from hardcore militias," he said. Kerblat urged the Indonesian government to ensure all refugees who want to return are able to.

Horta regrets two parties did not sign National Unity Pact

Suara Timor Lorosae - July 10, 2001

T he Transitional Minister for Foreign Affairs Jose Ramso-Horta said yesterday he regretted that two political parties, out of the 16 registered parties, refused to sign the National Unity Pact on Sunday. The two political parties which wanted to be out of the pact were the Timor National Party (PNT) and National Republic Party of Timor Leste (Parentil).

Ramos-Horta was speaking to reporters at the inauguration of the new BNU office in the heart of Dili. Ramos-Horta said that by not signing the National Unity Pact, the two parties indicated they were not interested in developing the country.

"The National Unity Pact is not for individual party self- interests but for the overall success of the 30 August election," said the Foreign Minister. "Let's not have a situation where those who did not sign the Unity Pact will also not respect the results of the 30 August election," stressed Ramos-Horta. "At the end of the day, however, it is the people who will decide which parties are for national unity," he added.

Fretilin opens festive congress, sorrows for past `excesses'

Lusa - July 10, 2001

I n a festive atmosphere, Fretilin, East Timor's historic independence party, opened an extraordinary congress in Dili Tuesday, under banners proclaiming "Maximum Tolerance, Total Vigilance" and "Restore Independence To Serve the People".

"This is an unique moment in our life, in the life of our people and of our country, which we will build together", Fretilin leader Lu-Olo told the 1,500 congress participants in an opening speech. Mari Alkatiri, another senior leader, expressed sorrow for "the victims of excessive pressure and intolerance" by Fretilin during the heady days of its unilateral declaration of independence in 1975.

The five-day congress aims to adapt the party, which claims about one-quarter of the East Timorese electorate as supporters, to the territory's "new reality" ahead of August 30 constituent assembly elections and independence expected sometime next year. East Timor's spiritual leader, Catholic Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo, blessed the gathering in the most applauded speech of the opening session. He later told Lusa the church recognized Fretilin's role in having represented "the aspirations of a whole people" in the past, while urging it to become increasingly "a party of democracy, openness and pluralism".

Among others attending dignitaries, which included leaders of some rival parties, UN chief administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello stressed to Lusa "the joy and happiness" he sensed in the congress, as well as its "sense of responsibility". With formal election campaigning to begin Sunday, Viera de Mello underlined that political parties were "to occupy the center of public life in East Timor".

Twelve dead in Aceh, new attack reported in ExxonMobil area

Agence France Presse - July 10, 2001

B anda Aceh -- Clashes in Indonesia's oil-rich province of Aceh have killed at least 12 people including five suspected separatist rebels, and endangered food supplies to residents, officials said Tuesday.

Guerrillas of the Free Aceh Movement (GAM) said they had attacked an outpost of US oil giant ExxonMobil in retaliation for violence directed at locals by security forces.

Aceh police spokesman Commissioner Sudarsono said five suspected GAM members died in a gunfight in the village of Panca, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) east of here on Monday. But local GAM spokesman Ayah Sofyan told AFP that only one rebel had been killed and the four other victims were civilians "brutally shot dead by troops."

Sofyan said the bodies could not be retrieved yet as the military was barring access to the area. Humanitarian workers in Banda Aceh confirmed the ban on entering the area.

On Monday, villagers found seven bodies at three separate locations in Central Aceh, district spokesman Zulkifli Rahmat told AFP. Three of the bodies had gunshot wounds and the others were already decomposed. "The seven bodies have already been buried by local residents," Rahmat said, adding that the killers were unknown.

Unknown men on Monday night torched some 130 houses and shops in Lampahan in Central Aceh, most of them owned by ethnic Acehnese, Rahman said. The area is about one kilometer from the headquarters of an army battalion and an elite police unit.

More than 1,200 people took temporary refuge at the main mosque and a school in Lampahan, a subdistrict town.

Violence in Central Aceh in the past week has halted the supply of food and fuel from the neighbouring districts of North Aceh and Bireun, Rahmat added.

Drivers of supply trucks were afraid to travel the road, fearing ambushes, he said. "If in another week, no supplies of essential foodstuffs arrive in Central Aceh, then the 250,000 people in the district may suffer from famine," he said. The shortage has already caused prices to rise drastically in the district, Rahmat said.

Electricity supplies to the district have already been disrupted for lack of fuel, and Central Aceh now has to rely on limited supplies from North Aceh.

The North Aceh GAM spokesman, Teungku Jamaica, said rebels attacked a security outpost within the Cluster IV area of the closed-off ExxonMobil gas operation in Lhoksukon on Monday. "We fired grenades, mortars and gunshots in retaliation for the actions of security personnel who have continuously roughed up the local population around ExxonMobil," Jamaica said. But the police spokesman said the attack consisted only of "one or two shots" and added there were no casualties.

The government, which is losing 100 million dollars a month in lost liquefied natural gas exports, is pushing ExxonMobil to reopen its facilities closed due to the violence since March 9.

More than 1,000 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in Aceh this year in violence involving the separatist rebels and security forces.

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