Subject: AFP: Close to 450,000 voters registered for East Timor's landmark vote
Date: Sat, 07 Aug 1999 10:05:22 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

Close to 450,000 voters registered for East Timor's landmark vote

DILI, East Timor, Aug 7 (AFP) - Close to 450,000 people have registered to take part in the landmark vote on East Timor's future on August 30, a United Nations official said Saturday.

"Preliminary figures show that 433,576 individuals registered within East Timor and 12,680 outside, bringing the total to 446,256 registrants," the chief electoral officer of the UN Mission in East Timor (UNAMET), Jeff Fischer, said.

The voters were registered between July 16 and August 6 in 200 UNAMET centres across the territory and several others in selected towns in Indonesia and abroad where large exiled East Timorese communities exist.

East Timorese will vote whether to accept an offer of autonomy within Indonesia, which invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975, and annexed it a year later.

Jakarta has said it may give the territory independence if the autonomy offer is rejected.

Fischer said a total of 913 registration applications had been refused, 13 of which were at registration stations abroad.

"The main reason was mostly because the people were too young to register," Fischer said.

But he said many displaced people, who have fled their villages fearing violence between the pro-independence and pro-Indonesia militias, have not been able to register.

He said it was difficult to give an accurate figure on the number of displaced persons but cited an estimate of 60,000 in East Timor and some 5,000 in neighbouring West Timor.

Some East Timorese members of the Indonesian armed forces have also been unable to register.

"The ballot announcement may be expected within a week (of poll day). So perhaps, the 7th or 8th of September, it might be announced," Fischer said.

He said the list of voters would be made public on August 19 to 23 and any decision on any challenge to it would be taken by the electoral commission on August 20-28.

During 22 days of registrations at least 18 registrations posts in six districts of East Timor closed periodically over poor security, he said.

"The sole reason for the closure was for security concerns," Fischer said.

Indonesia and Portugal, in an agreement at the United Nations in New York on May 5, agreed to allow the United Nations to conduct a "popular consultation" in East Timor.

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