|Subject: AU: Timor will get to have its say: Ramos
Date: Sat, 12 Jun 1999 10:44:55 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
The Australian 11 June 99
Timor will get to have its say: Ramos Horta By ROBERT GARRAN
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan would not agree to the August 8 ballot on East Timor's future if violence and intimidation remained at present levels, East Timorese resistance leader and Nobel laureate Jose Ramos Horta predicted yesterday.
However, there had been some improvement in conditions in the territory, Mr Ramos Horta said, and he was confident they would improve enough for a vote to take place.
Mr Ramos Horta told scholars at the Australian Defence Studies Centre in Canberra that it would take a serious escalation of violence to induce the UN to leave.
"If there is no vote on August 8, it doesn't mean they are going to leave. They are going to stay put. If it's not going to happen in August it will happen in September or it will happen in November," he said.
A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer said the Australian Government shared this assessment but there were signs of improvement every day as UN election monitors arrived in East Timor.
Mr Ramos Horta discussed prospects in East Timor with Mr Downer yesterday and said both agreed that postponement of the August 8 ballot would weaken and undermine the East Timor consultation process.
"We must work to secure the conditions for the vote to take place instead of thinking about alternatives such as postponing," Mr Ramos Horta said.
Mr Annan will decide late this month whether to stick with the August 8 schedule, and Australian advice will play a critical role in the decision.
Mr Downer will travel to New York this weekend for talks on East Timor and other issues, including the viability of the August 8 ballot.
Mr Ramos Horta praised the Government for its frankness in recent days over the military role in backing pro-Jakarta militias in East Timor.
"I am very pleased with this public denunciation of the role of the Indonesian army. It was no accident; it was deliberately well-calibrated to join the chorus of pressure on the Indonesian army," Mr Ramos Horta said.
"The Indonesians know that in the end, if they lose Australia's ear in sympathy, who else is going to listen to them?"
Mr Ramos Horta endorsed comments on Wednesday by a senior Foreign Affairs Department official on the size and composition of East Timor militias.
He said the figure of at least 6000 was "fairly accurate".
"I don't think it's much more than that. The only thing I would add is that not even half of them are East Timorese. They are West Timorese. They are unemployed, petty criminals recruited from West Timor. They are paid to do the job," he said.