|Subject: AFP: Indonesian ministry holds out
"slim" hope of winning Timor vote
Date: Sat, 14 Aug 1999 09:18:34 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News:
Indonesian ministry holds out "slim" hope of winning Timor vote
JAKARTA, Aug 9 (AFP) - The Indonesian foreign affairs ministry said Monday it believed it was possible East Timor would vote for autonomy under Jakarta rather than independence in a ballot this month.
Citing the ministry's estimates of supporters, a spokesman put the number of pro-autonomy East Timorese at 193,000 compared to 187,000 against.
"My own assessment is that this is a slim difference. However we are a little optimistic with this figure," spokesman Sulaiman Abdulmanan told a press briefing in Jakarta.
Abdulmanan said the estimates were partly taken from figures provided by the pro-integration Jakarta-backed Forum for Unity, Democracy and Justice (FPDK).
He added the figures were based on data as of August 1, when a total of 380,000 East Timorese had registered for the direct ballot.
Close to 450,000 East Timorese had registered for the August 30 poll by the time the process ended Friday.
Most diplomats in Jakarta say they feel the vote will be for independence.
Abdulmanan also repeated the ministry's insistent charges of pro-independence bias against the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET), which is supervising the vote.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has twice delayed the vote, originally scheduled for August 8, citing persistent violence by Indonesian army-backed militia.
"All this time, UNAMET personnel have not been fair and therefore biased in their work ... they have always either said or blamed pro-integrationists for everything that has happened in East Timor," Abdumanan said.
"I think what happened in the Batu Gade area recently is quite normal considering the political climate there," he said refering to two cases of harassment by pro-Indonesian militias that left at least one UNAMET poll officer slightly injured.
The incidents marred the penultimate day of voter registration on Thursday.