|Subject: AP: UN's E Timor Chief Says Security Must
Improve Before Vote
Date: Sat, 10 Jul 1999 16:53:27 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
UN's E Timor Chief Says Security Must Improve Before Vote
DILI, Indonesia (AP)--The head of a U.N. mission supervising a referendum on East Timor 's future returned to the troubled territory Thursday and warned that ballot preparations could stall unless Indonesia stemmed escalating violence.
In Jakarta on Wednesday, Ian Martin, chief of the U.N. Assistance Mission in East Timor , or Unamet, demanded Indonesian military chief Gen. Wiranto rein in anti-independence fighters who have attacked U.N. staff and killed dozens of civilians.
Speculation is growing that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan may again postpone the ballot, now slated for Aug. 20 or Aug. 21.
Originally the world body planned to hold it Aug. 8. But that was pushed back because of security fears.
Violence in East Timor has worsened since then, despite earlier assurances by Indonesia.
Unamet staff were threatened or attacked seven times last week by militiamen who accuse them of supporting independence for East Timor from Indonesia.
Martin has denied accusations of bias after some anti-independence leaders warned they might boycott the ballot.
On Thursday Martin told reporters voter registration could be held up because of the possibility of more violence.
"We have to see a real improvement in the security situation not only in regards to our own staff, but most importantly, all the East Timorese have to come forward to register," he said at Dili airport.
Martin said he would report to Annan soon. However, he refused to say whether he would recommend the vote be delayed again.
He said Indonesia had promised to beef up security ahead of the poll.
"Gen. Wiranto repeated very strong assurances to me. His hope is there will be no more incidents," Martin said.
The vote will give the East Timorese the choice between staying part of Indonesia as an autonomous region or full independence.
The former Portuguese colony has been wracked by violence and human rights abuses since Indonesia invaded in 1975 and annexed it as its 27th province in 1976.
Also on Thursday, 15 U.N. military liaison advisers arrived in Dili. They are part of a team of about 300 unarmed police and military advisers who are to help Indonesian security forces maintain law and order during the polling period.