|Subject: AU: UN considers E Timor evacuation
Date: Sat, 14 Aug 1999 09:15:09 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
The Australian 8 August 99
UN considers E Timor evacuation
THE United Nations warned its mission in East Timor may be evacuated if security conditions deteriorate, as representatives of the world body and Indonesia yesterday planned how to conduct a historic independence referendum.
After meeting with Foreign Minister Ali Alatas, Ian Martin, head of the UN mission organising the vote, said further talks to co-ordinate security measures in the tense region would be held next week in Jakarta. The United Nations, Indonesia, and Portugal East Timor's former colonial ruler will take part, Martin said.
He said UN personnel could be pulled out if security worsens in the run-up to the vote, scheduled for August 30.
"I told Alatas that if ... East Timor is in a dangerous situation, then the UN mission will have a plan to evacuate its staff," Martin said after the meeting.
The warning came a day after voter registration for the ballot ended. UN officials said voter rolls could top 450,000, exceeding their most optimistic projections.
Over the past several months, pro-Indonesian militias have terrorised much of the countryside in an effort to intimidate potential voters. They also have repeatedly attacked UN offices and staff conducting the voter registration drive.
Under the terms of the referendum accord, Indonesia is responsible for maintaining security. Jakarta has repeatedly stressed it would fulfill that obligation.
Officials accompanying Alatas included General Wiranto, the defence minister and Feisal Tanjung, minister for security and political affairs.
The plebiscite will allow East Timor's 800,000 inhabitants to choose whether they want to become a self-governing entity within Indonesia. If the proposal is rejected, Indonesia has said it would grant full independence to the province.
Indonesian forces occupied East Timor in 1975 in an action that caused the deaths of tens of thousands of civilians.
Efforts to forcibly incorporate the province into the rest of the country were strongly resisted by local inhabitants. The United Nations continued to recognise Portugal as the sovereign power in the half-island territory located about 2000km east of Jakarta.