Subject: SOLIDAMOR: No Indonesian election in Timor
Date: Sat, 27 Mar 1999 09:18:57 -0500
From: (TAPOL)

The following Press Statement was released in Jakarta by Solidamor (Solidarity for a Peaceful Solution in East Timor) on 24 March 1999

At a tripartite meeting in New York on 11 March, the Indonesian and Portuguese governments reached agreement on the mechanism for a direct ballot to assess the views of the people of East Timor on whether they would accept or reject Indonesia's offer of autonomy.

This agreement was a breakthrough in the process to resolve the conflict in East Timor which has dragged on for more than twenty years. For the first time, the Indonesian and Portuguese governments reached agreement on an issue of substance. The precise details of the autonomy offer will not be known until the next tripartite meeting to be held in April. On that occasion, the two sides will discuss the modalities of the autonomy packet, the initiative for which has come from the Indonesian government.

Once agreement has been reached, the details of the autonomy packet will be disseminated to the East Timorese people so as to enable them to decide upon their preference with regard to the autonomy proposal. The ballot on the offer will probably be conducted in July 1999.

The East Timorese people will exercise their right to self-determination within a very short period of time, only three months from the end of April till July 1999. This means that the United Nations as the organ which implements this act will have to work extremely hard to prepare everything in time for the ballot, including all stages, from publicising the autonomy packet up to the time of the ballot.

At almost the same time, the people of Indonesia will be engaged in their own 'major activity', the first general elections to be held following the end of the Suharto era. The election which will take place on 7 June is an event of major significance for the creation of a legitimate government and a representative parliament.

In view of the fact that the election will be taking place so close to the ballot in East Timor, Solidamor has asked the (Indonesian) Election Committee (KPU) to consider the idea of not holding the election in East Timor or agreeing to postpone it until such time as the wishes of the East Timorese people have been ascertained. Solidamor has made this proposal for the following reasons:

1. The people of East Timor will need an atmosphere that is conducive, permissive and tolerant for there to be an exchange of views between people holding different opinions. It should be an atmosphere free from tension and violence. This will help the East Timorese people to understand the contents and implications of the autonomy packet that is being offered to them, making it possible for them to make their choice under the best possible circumstances.

2. This would reduce the chances of excesses that might happen during the election campaign, particularly on occasions when large numbers of people are mobilised. It should also be borne in mind that at the time when the autonomy packet is being publicised, both sides - those who are pro-integration and those who are in favour of independence - will wage their own campaigns stressing the pros and cons of the autonomy packet on offer. It is feared that clashes could occur between those campaigning for the elections and those campaigning about the autonomy packet.

3. Under international law, the Indonesian government has neither the authority nor the legitimacy to conduct a general election in East Timor. The UN regards East Timor as a non-self-governing territory and Portugal is still regarded as the administering pwoer. Hence, it is illegal to conduct an election in East Timor which the Indonesian government unilaterally claimed as part of its territory.

Jakarta, 24 March 1999.

Bonar Tigor Naipospos, Chair of Solidamor Executive Council

TAPOL, the Indonesia Human Rights Campaign 111 Northwood Road, Thornton Heath, Surrey CR7 8HW, UK Phone: 0181 771-2904 Fax: 0181 653-0322 email: Internet: Campaigning to expose human rights violations in Indonesia, East Timor, West Papua and Aceh

Back to March Menu
Human Rights Violations in East Timor
Main Postings Menu
June '98 through February '99