January 27, 1999 News on East Timor and the latest on the pending impeachment trial of President Clinton.
The news of the day as the rest of the world saw it. East Timor was inching closer to Independence after nearly a quarter century of occupation by the Indonesian Army. Speculation the Army was responsible for the death and torture of as many as 200,000 East Timorese and the reluctance of the Army to leave, despite an official Indonesian position of accepting for the first time, the possibility of letting East Timor go Independent if an election rejected Indonesia‘s offer of Autonomy. The move signaled optimism, and a hope for the next logical step in ending a bitter odyssey. However, Josè Ramos Horta, East Timor’s leader-in-exile said it wasn’t enough, that what was being offered from Djakarta didn’t matter – it was the occupying Army on the ground in East Timor that was the problem, saying they were dealing with a group of pathological killers who would not leave under any circumstances. And Foreign Minister Ali Alatas was quoted as saying “Independence should be viewed as a last resort”. For over 20 years Indonesia had ruled out independence.
Meanwhile, back in the States: the impeachment trial of President Clinton over the alleged Monica Lewinsky affair was heading to a conclusion of sorts as crucial votes were expected later on this day. Republicans called for Clinton to give testimony, as well as Monica Lewinsky and her friend Linda Tripp, whose phone conversations with Lewinsky fueled the investigation, leading to the trial. News from the West Wing indicated Clinton was opposed to calling new witness, that this whole thing was a witch hunt cooked up by the Republican majority on Capitol Hill and prosecutor Kenneth Starr to further discredit the President and force him out of office. Signs that the only hopes that the trial could be conducted with dignity and bi-partisanship had all but disappeared and an air of bitterness permeated Congress.
And because this newscast was all about what was going on in the World, and not just our side of the globe, there was considerably more going on. Jordan’s King Hussein was back in the hospital, leaving Jordan in the hands of his son. Six foreigners being held in Yemen were to go on trial this day and speculation that infamous World War 1 spy Mata Hari wasn’t in fact a spy after all.
All that, and a whole lot more via the BBC World Service Newshour for January 27, 1999
Note: If you haven’t already, I would urge you, beg you, hound you, to start streaming the BBC World service. It’s available everywhere in every format and it makes for crucial listening – tons of information and just the facts.