Subject: AFP: Decision expected Monday on whether Timor vote goes ahead
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 1999 12:18:35 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

Decision expected Monday on whether Timor vote goes ahead next month

DILI, East Timor, July 23 (AFP) - UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is expected to decide Monday whether conditions in East Timor will allow a vote on its future to go ahead on schedule next month, a UN spokesman said Friday.

"He (Annan) will send his report to the Security Council, probably by the end of Monday," Hiro Ueki, a spokesman for the UN Mission in East Timor (UNAMET), told journalists here.

Ueki said UNAMET on Friday began its own progress review, which will run through the weekend, that could be crucial in determining whether the vote will proceed as planned on August 21 and August 22.

The East Timorese are due to vote on whether to accept an offer of broad-based autonomy under Indonesia or to hold out for independence.

"In a way this kicks off our mid-point assessment of registration as well as the security situation," Ukei said, referring to a meeting involving all top UNAMET police and civilian officials in Dili Friday morning.

"A series of (review) meetings are scheduled for this weekend," he said, adding UNAMET chief Ian Martin would then forward his assessment to Annan, who will make the final decision.

On Thursday UNAMET's chief electoral officer Jeff Fischer said here that since the 20-day registration period had started on July 16, two weeks behind schedule, and would not finish until August 4, the schedule for the whole vote exercise had become cramped.

Although Fischer did not mention security concerns, Annan said in New York Wednesday that despite some "positive developments" he was still dissatisfied, urging Indonesia to make further efforts to rein in anti-independence militias.

"The activities of armed civilian groups continue to challenge the fundamental security which all East Timorese deserve in order to fully participate in a credible consultation," Annan said in a report to the UN Security Council.

He has warned that unless it is safe enough he may further postpone the referendum.

"I remain confident that the Indonesian government will take further determined measures to improve the situation" to ensure "meaningful and visible progress" on a number of issues, Annan said.

These include activities by the pro-integrationist militias who have been intimidating voters and harassing UN personnel organizing the poll.

Despite the efforts by Jakarta, "much still remains to be done to realize the assurances of the government on the ground," he said.

He also expressed concern about some 60,000 people either forcibly displaced or intimidated by the militias into fleeing from their homes.

"The problem of the internally displaced has a direct bearing on the prospects for holding a free and fair vote," Annan said.

Annan has the final say on the date although Indonesian President B.J. Habibie, according to his aides, has asked that it be held no later than August 22.

Habibie has said Indonesia might grant independence to East Timor, which it invaded in 1975 and annexed a year later, if its people reject the autonomy offer.

He has aired concerns that if the vote is held later, the result would be in too late for him to present it as a fait accompli to the People's Consultative Assembly.

Habibie must deliver an accountability speech to the assembly before it selects a new president and vice president in November as a follow-up to the June 7 general elections.

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