Special Status to Be Offered to E. Timor
Signaling a possible easing of tight control in this nation, new President B. J. Habibie said he is ready to grant special status to East Timor in exchange for peace in the disputed territory. Habibie also said he signed a decree to release 10 East Timorese rebels jailed by Indonesia, which invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and annexed it the next year. The new Indonesian leader emphasized, however, that special status did not mean political autonomy. East Timorese activists said Habibie’s gesture was not enough for them to end their long-running guerrilla war against Indonesian rule.