Subject: AN: Alatas says autonomy will win
Date: Sat, 27 Mar 1999 09:16:21 -0500
From: "John M. Miller" <>


Jakarta, March 22 (ANTARA) - The East Timorese have mainly declared independence through integration within Indonesia in 1975, and they need to declare it again in the coming UN-sponsored direct ballot, on the offer of the UN-backed autonomy package, Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas said here Monday. "It's high time for the East Timorese to show once again to Ramos Horta (and his friends) that they remain to choose independence through integration," he told a gathering on East Timor, organised by the Indonesian Council on World Affairs (ICWA), here. Speaking at the gathering, participated in by tens of pro-and-anti-East Timorese leaders, foreign observers, and active and former Indonesian diplomats, Alatas said the credibility of Ramos Horta, an anti-integrationist leader living in Australia, would be determined by the direct vote, hopefully held around July. Horta (and also other anti-integrationist leaders), have previously expressed the view that 95 percent of the population in East Timor (the former Portuguese colony for more than 400 years which integrated into Indonesia in 1976 following the issuance of the Balibo Declaration a year earlier), now prefers independence to integration. "If (most of) the East Timorese people still choose integration, Ramos Horta will be exposed by the world media that he is a liar of the world for years." "Thus, put your choice on autonomy, because it is the best choice for East Timor, Indonesia, and also for security in the Southeast Asian region," Alatas said, adding that the East Timorese people need to show their actual willingness in the direct ballot. The United Nations team, he said, would carry out the vote by asking 600,000 out of 800,000 East Timorese people living in the troubled province of East Timor and some 20,000 East Timorese people living abroad. The 20,000 East Timorese people are reported to live in Portugal, Australia, Macao (former Portuguese colony but now China's territory), and Canada. In this connection, if there is an unfairness in the direct ballot, it will be the responsibility of the UN-sponsored team, because the team is on the ground to carry out the voting, Alatas said. But, he said the team has ensured that there will be no unfairness or the like in the direct voting, on whether or not the East Timorese people will accept the UN-supported autonomy package. "The United Nations is now preparing its plan of action. It is up to the United Nations if it wants to set up its military observer. This direct ballot is its own work. We hope it will be carried out peacefully and secure," he said. On the final status of the troubled province, he reiterated that Indonesia would not be disturbed by whatever becomes the choice of the East Timorese people: still part of Indonesia with special status based on a wide-ranging autonomy or separated from Indonesia if they reject the autonomy package.

Peaceful solution Alatas further said it is nonsense if Indonesia is accused to have provoked a new civil war in East Timor, because the side effects of any civil war will mainly be the burden of this country as happened in 1975. "So, it is nonsense, to say we want the civil war again to happen in East Timor. But, in return, we keep on encouraging the East Timorese people to resume reconciliation among themselves," he said, adding Jakarta really wants a democratic and peaceful solution to the East Timor problem. On whether the East Timorese will still take part in the June 7 general election, Alatas said they would participate in the election, particularly to vote their representatives for the House of Representatives (DPR). East Timor remains an integral part of Indonesia until the holding of the election, and the locals need to have their representatives in the newly-elected DPR, whose members will be in charge of finalizing the final status of the territory in their general assembly. On the direct ballot as the approved mechanism of absorbing the East Timorese' view on the offer of the UN-supported autonomy package, Leondro I, coordinator of the National Political Commission of the CNRT (the anti-integrationist organisation whose Falintil is its arm/wing), said his organisation fully backed up the direct ballot. "We will accept the outcome of the direct vote, but we also hope that Indonesia will do the same thing," he told reporters on the sidelines of the gathering, which was also attended by former Fretilin president Abilio Araujo.

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