|Subject: RT: Annan Apprehensive Of Security, Rights
In E. Timor
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 1999 12:14:29 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Thursday July 22 12:49 AM ET
Annan Apprehensive Of Security, Rights In E. Timor
By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Secretary-General Kofi Annan feared Wednesday security was still inadequate in East Timor and that thousands of displaced people would be excluded from a crucial August vote on the territory's future.
The United Nations is responsible for organizing a ballot on August 21 or August 22 in the former Portuguese colony, controlled by Jakarta. Voters can choose between independence or wide-ranging autonomy within Indonesia.
In a report to the Security Council, Annan said Indonesian police and military authorities have made strides in reigning in anti-independence militia, responsible for most of the violence in the territory.
But he said ``the activities of armed civilian groups continue to challenge the fundamental security, which all East Timorese deserve to participate fully in a credible consultation (balloting) process.''
Violence has escalated since Indonesian President B.J. Habibie in January said he would let East Timor go if voters rejected autonomy. Indonesia invaded the territory in 1975, an action not recognized by the world community.
Many people have been driven from their homes or fled to avoid intimidation by the militia. Some observers estimate as many as 60,000 people are displaced, more than 10 percent of the 400,000 eligible voters in the territory.
``A considerably number of potential voters have been displaced from their homes and are either under the control of the militias, in sanctuary in church compounds or in hiding in remote areas of the territory,'' Annan said.
He said the United Nations had plans to reach the dispossessed but that the militia actions ``with the clear intention of influencing political choice continue to pose a fundamental challenge.''
Annan, who has postponed the balloting once already, has to decide within three weeks whether voters can go the polls without fear of intimidation.
His report noted that campaigning among pro-autonomy groups had begun despite U.N. regulations it not start until August. Public officials have used their office and government funds to campaign against independence and pressure civil servants to do likewise, he said.
In addition local authorities, despite objections from the Jakarta government, have not permitted the pro-independence National Council of Timorese Resistance to operate openly in some districts. Their access to the media is also limited.
``It cannot be said as yet that optimal conditions exist for all competing political factions in East Timor,'' Annan said.