Subject: SMH: UN gears up for East Timor vote
Date: Sat, 17 Apr 1999 08:51:45 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <fbp@igc.apc.org>

Received from Joyo:

Sydney Morning Herald Friday, 16 April, 1999

UN gears up for East Timor vote

By LINDSAY MURDOCH INDONESIA CORRESPONDENT JAKARTA, THURSDAY

The United Nations is planning a military-style operation to support its supervision of a scheduled July vote in violence-racked East Timor that includes the use of helicopters, aircraft, field hospitals and 70 four-wheel drive vehicles.

The scale of the planning indicates the UN could deploy several hundred people in East Timor before the vote on Indonesia's offer of autonomy for the former Portuguese territory. With the Australian Government expecting to play a key role in the UN contingent, many of them are likely to be Australians.

Details of the planning emerged yesterday when the Northern Territory Government advertised for Australian businesses to register their companies with the UN, opening the way for them to tender for contracts to supply goods and services for the operation.

The advertisement said facilities would be needed to enable sick or injured UN personnel to be evacuated to Darwin, which the Government hopes will become the staging post for the UN operation.

The Northern Territory's Department of Industries and Business said in the advertisement that the UN had advised its initial requirements for East Timor included temporary housing, power plants, military-style food rations and barges to transport supplies.

A department spokesman, Mr Gary Clements, said from Darwin the advertisement was a proactive move to alert companies to the potential of the UN operation although it was still early days.

Despite growing violence in East Timor, the UN planning excludes the use of armed peacekeepers, which Indonesia insists will not be needed to secure the vote. The violence, including the massacre of up to 60 unarmed villagers at a church at Liquica last week, has fuelled fears the vote will have to be abandoned.

After talks in Jakarta, Labor's foreign affairs spokesman, Mr Laurie Brereton, warned today that East Timor could plunge into civil war unless the Indonesian armed forces (ABRI) disarm paramilitary groups in the territory which oppose independence for Timor, and allow peacekeepers before the vote.

But Mr Brereton said Indonesia's Foreign Minister, Mr Ali Alatas, told him yesterday that ABRI, not foreign troops, would be responsible for maintaining security in East Timor while it still remained part of Indonesia.

The President, Dr B.J. Habibie, has promised that East Timor could become independent if Timorese reject the autonomy vote.

Mr Brereton, who also yesterday met the pro-independence leader, Mr Jose ``Xanana'' Gusmao, said the Howard Government should use its influence with Jakarta to pressure ABRI to disarm the paramilitary groups blamed for provoking violence in a strategy to sabotage the vote.

He said the Australian Government merely ``talked in whispers'' to the Indonesian Government despite a unique relationship with Jakarta built up over years.

Mr Brereton said there was ample evidence that ABRI had armed paramilitary groups blamed for provoking bloodshed in East Timor.

Mr Brereton called on the Foreign Minister, Mr Alexander Downer, to release the findings of a report into the Liquica massacre by officials of the Australian embassy in Jakarta. Mr Downer has received a copy of the findings but his spokesman said yesterday it would not be made public.

Mr Brereton described the Liquica killings as a ``second Dili massacre without the television cameras'', a reference to the killing of hundreds of mourners at the Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili in 1991.

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