East Timor Crisis: THE TIMOR QUESTION

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The Independent Online
How serious a fighting force is the Indonesian military?

INCLUDING ITS national police, Indonesia possesses one of the biggest armed forces in Asia with some 450,000 men. Its elite units, including the Kostrad strategic command, and the notorious Kopassus special forces are highly trained and skilled, with officers who have studied in Europe, Australia and America. Under President Suharto, the military's principal security task was suppressing internal political dissent.

How is the crisis viewed by ordinary Indonesians?

UNTIL THIS year, the fate of East Timor was a matter of indifference to Indonesians who are baffled by the attention paid to the territory by foreigners. Newspapers and television tend to focus on pro-Indonesian leaders, and pay little attention to collusion between the armed forces and the militias. Megawati Sukarnoputri, Indonesia's most popular politician, opposed the referendum,but she insists she will respect its result.

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