|Subject: AFP: UN envoy says great expectations, many
problems in East Timor
Date: Sat, 26 Jun 1999 09:04:53 +0000
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
UN envoy says great expectations, many problems in East Timor
LIQUISA, East Timor, June 25 (AFP) - A special envoy of UN Secretary General Kofi Annan said here Friday there were great expectations but many problems in staging a vote on the future of East Timor.
"There is tremendous hope and expectation from the UN presence," visiting envoy Jamsheed Marker said.
"It's a great responsibility and something they are taking very seriously because the expectations are so great."
Marker was speaking in this eastern East Timorese town while on a whirlwind tour by helicopter of outlying areas of the territory, scheduled in August to choose in a UN-conducted vote between autonomy under Indonesia or independence.
"I think there are lots of problems, and that's one of them," he said when asked about intimidation and attacks by pro-Indonesian militia, cited by Annan as one reason for postponing the vote for two weeks.
"It's being handled, I'm quite satisfied on that count," he added.
Marker also praised member of the UN team (UNAMET) already on the ground in East Timor, saying their "morale is great" and that the unarmed civilian UN police had "set up excellent working relationships" with their Indonesian counterparts.
The UN envoy, followed by a wide-eyed crowd of mostly children, was greeted by local police chief Lieutenant Colonel Salova and spent 40 minutes in a closed-door meeting with Liquisa district chief Leoneto Martins.
Martins told reporters after the talks that there were no more security problems in Liquisa, one of the priority areas for the United Nations in East Timor because of its history of militia intimidation.
Earlier Friday UNAMET announced that it will open all of its eight voter registration centres across the former Portuguese colony by Saturday.
The announcement came as leaders of rival pro- and anti-Indonesia groups gathered in Jakarta for a dialogue organized by East Timor's bishops in a bid to reconcile them ahead of the vote.
"By tomorrow, all of the eight regional offices will be up and running," UNAMET spokesman David Wimhurst said in Dili.
The last to open on Saturday will be in the western town of Maliana. It will also double as a base for UN personnel deployed in East Timor ahead of the ballot, he said.
The offices will be located in the capital Dili, in Oecussi, Baucau, Suai, Ermera, Viqueque, Los Palos and Maliana. All but the Maliana office "are staffed and operational," he said.
Wimhurst also announced the appointment of Brigadier General Rezqui Haider from Bangladesh to head a team of 50 UN military liaison officers to work with the Indonesian armed forces ahead of the ballot.
The liaison officers will be located around East Timor, Wimhurst said.
Haider is scheduled to arrive July 4, while the military liaison officers will arrive on July 5 and July 8, he added.
Wimhurst added that two members of the liaison team, one Australian and one New Zealander, were already in Dili.
The 30-strong second contingent of unarmed UN civilian police will also arrive on Saturday from Darwin, Northern Australia, where they have been training.
They will included three Argentinians, one Swede, one Zimbabwean, six Filipinos, 15 Australians and four Bangladeshis.
Jakarta in January said it was prepared to let go of the former Portuguese colony it invaded in 1975 if East Timor's people rejected the autonomy offer.
Violence and tension supporters and opponents of independence has since risen.