Subject: AFP: Indonesia seeks clear reasons for postponement of East Timor vote
Date: Sat, 26 Jun 1999 08:56:16 +0000
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

Indonesia seeks clear reasons for postponement of East Timor vote

JAKARTA, June 23 (AFP) - Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas said Wednesday he did not believe it was necessary for the United Nations to delay a self-determination plebiscite in East Timor for two weeks.

Alatas said he was awaiting an official announcement of the postponement from UN Secretary General Kofi Annan but that if it was true, the reasons should be clearly spelled out.

"We do not believe that there should be a delay, we are ready to do it in August, but if a delay is necessary, (then) only for technical reasons," he said.

Annan said in a statement released by the United Nations that the East Timor ballot, originally scheduled for August 8, will be delayed for about two weeks.

"We have delayed it briefly, but the ballot will go ahead in the month of August," Annan said in the statement.

The UN chief cited security and logistical concerns for the postponement.

He also said in a six-page report to the UN Security Council that Indonesia and Portugal have "concurred with a two-week postponement of the ballot date."

But Alatas said: "We believe that the security situation is constantly improving and we are quite sure that by the time of August 8, or far before it, the security situation will be fully conducive."

However he added that Jakarta was aware that there had been "considerable delays" in logistical arrangements.

"If that is the reason for the delay, we can be of course rational about it but please use that reason truthfully and not only solely blaming security situation," the Indonesian minister said.

"Suppose a decision is made to propose to Indonesia and Portugal to postpone the popular consultation, then Indonesia would like to see that the postponement is given reasons that are logical and truthful," Alatas said.

"As far as we are concerned we are sticking to what has been explained to us as late as yesterday by Ambassador Jamsheed Marker," Alatas said referring to Annan's special envoy on East Timor, currently on a visit to Indonesia.

Alatas said Marker, who left Wednesday for East Timor after two days in Jakarta, had assured him that a decision had to wait for his report to Annan.

Some 400,000 people in East Timor, a former Portuguese colony annexed by Indonesia in 1976, are to decide in the vote whether to accept autonomy with Indonesia or to become independent.

Annan, who was in Moscow, said that before the plebiscite can be held "we have certain conditions which have to be fulfilled.

"We have to ensure that the security situation (is) conducive (to a vote) and appropriate, that the logistical problems (are) solved, that we (can) deploy everybody on time," Annan told reporters in the Russian capital.

"And so having taken all these factors into consideration, we felt a brief delay would be beneficial," he added.

Violence between pro-Indonesian and pro-independence factions in East Timor has spiralled since Jakarta announced in January that it could consider independence if the East Timor rejected broad autonomy.

Diplomats have blamed much of the violence in East Timor on pro-Indonesian militias. And the principal human rights organization in Dili has warned that Indonesian security forces and militias have been intimidating the populace.

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