|Subject: CANBERRA TIMES ARTICLE ON AUTONOMY PROPOSAL
From: "david martyn" <email@example.com>
9 FEBRUARY 1999
E. Timor to have own government under UN plan
By LINCOLN WRIGHT
The United Nations autonomy plan for East Timor would give Indonesia control over foreign affairs, defence and the economy, but would provide scope for an East Timorese government, an independent judiciary and extensive cultural autonomy.
An early draft of the UN's autonomy plan provided to The Canberra Times reveals the new East Timor authority will be able to raise local taxes, establish a police force, run an East Timorese civil service and independently seek international economic assistance.
The plan was drafted last year by the UN's special envoy to East Timor, ambassador Jamsheed Marker, and represents the basis of the dialogue at the UN between Portugal and Indonesia over the future of East Timor.
The new de-facto East Timor government, to be called the East Timor regional authority, is at the heart of the UN plan. It will be headed by an elected chief executive officer, who would be the virtual premier of East Timor.
The regional authority would be responsible to a legislative assembly, elected on the basis of universal adult suffrage, and its powers would extend only to those areas not within the competence of Indonesia.
The plan also reveals that Portugal might have a "special responsibility" for developing the East Timor economy and there might be joint control over East Timor's natural resources, with the proviso that the major share went to East Timor.
In what looks like a breakthrough step, Indonesia's Foreign Minister Ali Alatas said in New York yesterday that Indonesia had agreed "in principle" to a UN "consultation" of East Timor's population regarding the autonomy package.
Mr Alatas indicated that autonomy remained Indonesia's preference, but the Indonesian Government had indicated that if autonomy were rejected it might offer independence to East Timor.
Under the autonomy package, Indonesia would have responsibility for foreign policy but would consult the regional authority over issues of particular relevance to East Timor. East Timor would have no right of veto but, with Indonesia's agreement, it could participate in specific international activities and forums.
But an autonomous East Timor would have the right to elect its own chief executive officer and assembly in a similar way that Australian states elect their own premiers and state governments.
The assembly would not be able to alter the power-sharing arrangements that determine the areas of Indonesia's legal authority, but the East Timor judiciary would interpret Indonesian laws as applied to the province.
The draft also has special bracketed sections which indicate items to be negotiated, such as how the chief executive officer would be elected, whether decisions by an East Timorese judiciary could be appealed to a higher Indonesian court or how the Timor Gap treaty should be administered.
Last Friday, Mr Marker said the bracketed sections reflected the different positions of Indonesia and Portugal, but that the plan was a useful basis for a East Timor constitution.
Three options for choosing the chief executive are proposed: direct election, election by the legislative assembly, or election by the assembly and confirmed by the Indonesian head of state.
Another power of the regional authority would be to consult with Indonesia over transmigration issues and promote East Timor culture, education and language.
Indonesia would have the right to station armed forces on East Timor sufficient to defend the province, and in exceptional circumstances might be allowed to assist in maintaining public order.
East Timor would also use the rupiah as a currency and follow the fiscal, monetary and customs policies of Indonesia, but there would be some room for its own form of economic development.
Although not directly participating in the UN talks in New York, East Timorese who have seen the draft autonomy plan are apparently dissatisfied with it.
Monitoring role for AFP: Ramos Horta
By NICHOLAS STUART
Australian Federal Police would form part of the United Nations monitoring force in East Timor, according to a draft plan being discussed in New York.
Exiled East Timorese spokesman Jose Ramos Horta has put forward the idea as part of his proposal for a transitional UN administration, which he claims is well advanced.
"I have made contact with members of the Security Council to explore this possibility. Many countries have reacted favourably to the idea," he said.
Mr Ramos Horta left Australia on Friday for meetings with UN members in New York, to be followed by meetings with United States officials in Washington.
The Indonesian Foreign Minister, Ali Alatas, is also in New York for talks with Portugal and UN officials.
Under one proposal being discussed, Australian police would be called in upon the withdrawal of Indonesia, with Fiji and New Zealand contributing troops to an interim UN administration that would last for at least three years.
Fiji has provided troops for UN operations and Mr Horta envisages a similar arrangement in Timor, ensuring the military muscle was available to guarantee the disarming of any militias opposing independence.
The militias are comprised of people who want the province to remain part of Indonesia. They are receiving weapons and ammunition from the army, ostensibly to allow them to defend themselves.
However, the pro-independence forces claim this is a last-ditch effort by Indonesia to inflame the civil war.
"Most of the militias are full of criminals, drug addicts and the unemployed," Mr Ramos Horta says.
"They have no social or political base and would disintegrate, dropping their guns, when Indonesia leaves."
He says fears of continuing violence after independence are exaggerated.
"I hope no country attempts to destabilise East Timor, because they will need us in the long run."