Indonesia approves Moluccan change of course

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The Indonesian ambassador to the Netherlands, Yunus Effendi Habibie has told Radio Netherlands Worldwide that Indonesia is pleased that the exiled Moluccan government is no longer striving for an independent state.

According to the ambassdor Moluccans already have autonomy, so the present situation need not be changed. He rejects full Moluccan independence. Mr Habibie's comments come in reponse to a decision by the new president of the Moluccan government-in-exile, John Wattilete's words that an independent Moluccan state is no longer its absolute priority.

Although independence is still the ultimate goal, he says he would be satisfied with a form of autonomy similar to that introduced in Aceh. "The most important thing is that Moluccans themselves are in charge."

The government of the self-styled Republik Maluku Selatan has been exiled in the Netherlands since 1966, following an attempt at independence in 1950 which was swiftly put down by the Indonesian army. During the 1970s they attempted to gain publicity for their cause with a number of violent actions in the Netherlands including occupations and the hijacking of a train.

John Wattilete takes over the RMS presidency in the autumn. He is the first to come from the second generation of Moluccans in the Netherlands and is regarded as more pragmatic than previous leaders.



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