|Subject: DPA: Xanana Gusmao registers for U.N.
Date: Sat, 07 Aug 1999 09:58:33 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
August 4, 1999, Wednesday, BC Cycle Detained East Timor rebel leader Gusmao registers for U.N. ballot
Detained East Timorese rebel leader Xanana Gusmao registered Wednesday for an upcoming United Nations-run autonomy ballot, saying independence was the best way to restore peace to the troubled Indonesian province.
Gusmao, escorted by Justice Ministry officials and his attorney from the Jakarta residence where he lives under house arrest, registered for the August 30 ballot at the U.N. headquarters.
"I expect the balloting to be fair and free," Gusmao told reporters. "I also call on all East Timorese to take part in the election."
As many as 400,000 East Timorese are expected to cast ballots to decide whether the former Portuguese colony should remain part of Indonesia with wide-ranging autonomy, or move toward independence.
The U.N. Assistance Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) has registered some 380,000 people since July 16, a figure officials called successful despite ongoing violence between pro-integration militias and pro-independence groups.
The U.N. announced Wednesday that Secretary-General Kofi Annan had agreed to extend voter registration through Friday in Dili, East Timor's capital, and through Sunday in locations outside the city.
The extention was given to allow U.N. staff to accommodate East Timorese who have been unable to register due to logistical problems or violence.
The U.N. has twice delayed the ballot because of security concerns.
Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and annexed it a year later, sparking a civil war that has claimed as many as 200,000 lives.
The U.N. never recognised the territory as part of Indonesia, and helped negotiate the ballot among the Indonesian and Portuguese governments, and pro-integration supporters and pro-independence rebels in East Timor. dpa jc jh