|=Subject: AP: 35 Nations Pledge Support For U.N.
Ballot In E. Timor
Date: Sat, 08 May 1999 09:34:27 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
May 6, 1999
35 Nations Pledge Support For U.N. Ballot In E. Timor
Dow Jones Newswires
UNITED NATIONS (AP)--At least 35 nations have offered to support the U.N.-supervised ballot in East Timor, but the United Nations and the United States remain deeply concerned that continuing violence could derail the vote.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan again demanded Thursday that militia groups stop fighting and lay down their arms well before the August 8 ballot, saying the action is one of the key security conditions for voting to go ahead.
In a report to the U.N. Security Council, he also called for the redeployment of Indonesian military forces and immediate prosecution of all those inciting or threatening to use violence.
The United States also remains deeply troubled by the unrestrained, violent activities of civilian militiamen who "seek to bias the consultation through terror and intimidation," State Department spokesman James Foley said in Washington.
The Security Council, the United States, and Annan all welcomed Wednesday's historic agreement between Indonesia and Portugal that will allow the Timorese to decide whether they want to remain part of Indonesia or become independent. Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and annexed it the following year.
To quickly establish the U.N. presence in East Timor, Annan told the council that he had opened a trust fund for contributions from member states.
Australia made the first contribution of A$10 million, (about $7 million). Portuguese Foreign Minister Jaime Gama handed a $10 million check to Annan on Wednesday from the Portuguese government to help finance the U.N. mission.
U.N. envoy Jamsheed Marker, the top U.N. negotiator for the past two years, invited potential donors to a meeting Thursday afternoon, and predicted in advance that about 25 would show up. But 36 nations sent representatives, he said afterwards, "which is very encouraging."
All 36 - including the major industrialized nations, European Union members and many Asian countries - said they were interested in contributing "cash or kind or both and all were very supportive," Marker said.
But nobody made specific pledges because they want details of what's needed - which Marker said he hopes to provide next week.
Concern about the security situation was clearly paramount.
Violence has escalated in the half-island territory since Indonesia - in a surprise policy reversal - announced in January that it would put the 800,000 Timorese on the road to independence if they reject wide-ranging autonomy.
Britain introduced a Security Council resolution Thursday expressing "grave concern" about the security situation.
The legally binding resolution, which is expected to be adopted by the council on Friday, stressed the Indonesian government's responsibility for maintaining "peace and security" so voting can take place "in a fair and peaceful way."
Marker said the international demands for an end to violence and calls for Indonesian to keep its commitment to maintain peace and security are important.
But the crucial factor is what happens on the ground.
The United Nations plans to send a mission, numbering between 600 and 800, to oversee voting, Marker said. The exact number will be determined by a U.N. advance team, which has started to arrive in the Timorese capital of Dili. The advance team will also recommend the number of U.N. civilian police advisers who will assist Indonesian police with security, he said.
Marker said organizing the ballot was a "horrendous" logistical problem. "We have to determine everything - everything," he said, from registering voters and publicizing the ballot to ensuring that minimum security standards are met.
Annan echoed his concern, telling the Security Council: "I do not wish to minimize the logistical and other problems that the United Nations will face in carrying out the consultation in such a short time frame."