Subject: AGE: Timor: plan for UN rule
Date: Sun, 01 Aug 1999 11:33:53 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

The Age [Australia] July 31, 1999

Timor: plan for UN rule




The United Nations is drafting plans for an administration to rule East Timor for up to four years if, as expected, the territory votes to break away from Indonesia.

In interviews with The Age, senior UN officials have revealed they are preparing to establish an elaborate interim government structure in the event of a yes vote for independence in next month's referendum.

The officials said that during the period Australia and other countries with a particular interest in the future of East Timor would have to be prepared to maintain large commitments of money, police and soldiers.

The most pressing issue, emphasised by the Australian Foreign Minister, Mr Alexander Downer, this week, is getting an agreement with Jakarta on bolstering the UN police presence in the territory after the vote.

The first significant step towards achieving this was taken yesterday when the UN invited senior Indonesian military and police officials to New York next week for a series of crucial meetings on post-ballot security.

At the same time, Australia has begun a new push within the UN for a senior military envoy to be appointed to negotiate separately with the Indonesian army on increasing the international military presence in the territory after the vote.

The Australian proposal is to forge an agreement with the Indonesian generals to allow UN peacekeepers to gradually replace Indonesian soldiers in East Timor if there is a move to independence.

Another meeting of senior UN and Indonesian Government officials has also been scheduled in Jakarta in mid-August to finalise arrangements for post-ballot security.

UN officials said that all the discussions would relate to the period between the ballot on 30August and the ratification of the outcome by the new Indonesian Parliament, between two and three months later.

The ultimate composition of the UN mission during this period, known as phase II of the self-determination process, will depend heavily on the outcome of the vote.

Observers believe the possibility of widespread violence will be greatest if, as expected, the East Timorese reject the option of autonomy within Indonesia and opt for independence.

Anti-independence militia have been responsible for several attacks in recent months, backed covertly by elements of the Indonesian military.

There are deepening concerns that those attacks could worsen and be met by reprisals from pro-independence guerrilla forces if a strong security presence is not maintained.

The magnitude of the task ahead was reinforced by Mr Downer, who today became the first Australian foreign minister to visit the Timorese capital, Dili. He described the post-ballot period as ``very dangerous'' and committed Australia to support plans to boost the UN force already in the territory.

He also hinted that Australian troops might be sent to East Timor if the vote is for independence.

``As the Indonesian security forces withdrew the UN would be increasingly responsible for security,'' he said.

He said that while at first he thought it would be a miracle if the ballot could be held successfully, the security environment had improved and ``I think there is a chance it can be achieved''.

``But I am not calling the game over yet,'' Mr Downer said. ``There is a long way to go. There are enormous risks ahead. There has been so much violence for so long it could very easily erupt again.''

UN officials emphasised this week that the Indonesian army would retain the primary responsibility for security in the phase II period and that any build-up of UN forces would be gradual.

``There seems to be this growing misconception that we can just send in the cavalry if violence breaks out after the consultations (ballot), but that simply is not true,'' one official said.

It would take several weeks for the UN to mount a peacekeeping mission, which could be done only with the approval of the Security Council.

Contingency plans for such a mission have been discussed for several weeks in various departments of the UN, but no formal strategy has been finalised.

If the vote is for independence, Indonesia would maintain administrative control of the territory until the outcome was ratified by the Indonesian Parliament. It would then hand over responsibility to the UN in what would become phase III.

That part of the process is expected to be the most critical, requiring a new civil administration to take immediate control of all government services, including health, education, justice, electricity and water. The UN expects it will have to maintain a strong military, police and administrative presence in East Timor for up to four years after the vote to allow it sufficient time to establish an effective independent administration.

Diplomats voiced private concerns this week that the UN planning for such an outcome has been inadequate.

``I really don't think we realise the immensity of the task ahead of us if we move to independence in Timor,'' one diplomat said.

``I mean, what criminal law are we going apply? What sort of contractual law, and what currency do we use? The questions are as fundamental as that.''

UN officials said nations such as Australia that had particular interests in the East Timor issue would also have to be prepared to help a new government with the considerable costs of running the country.

Services such as electricity and telecommunications are provided by Indonesia under heavy subsidies, which would disappear if the East Timorese opt for independence.

Those subsidies would have to be picked up by member nations of the UN in the short term and new benefactors found for the longer term, officials said.

Residents of the troubled western province of Aceh are reported to have dug up 51 bodies of civilians killed by Indonesian troops last week for allegedly possessing illegal arms.

The bodies were found in four separate places on Wednesday and yesterday by people in the Beutong Ateuh valley of West Aceh, the Kompas daily said.

Twenty bodies were found in two places on Wednesday, and 31 the next day in two further mass graves.

The local military commander, Colonel Syarifuddin Tippe, has said the military launched an operation in the Beutong Ateuh area to sweep for illegal weapons.

Villagers said residents were told by the troops to gather in a field near a school for an identity check. The soldiers opened fire and massacred them in cold blood.

Violence in Aceh has spiralled since early May, when troops shot dead 41 civilians amid a campaign for a referendum on self-determination in Aceh.

Armed Acehnese groups, believed to be members of the Aceh Merdeka (Free Aceh) movement that has been fighting for independence since 1976, have killed more than two dozen soldiers in the past month.

with AFP

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