|Subject: ABC: Militias can't stop independence: UN
Date: Sat, 4 Sep 1999 04:02:56 EDT
also: World Urges Indonesia To Keep Lid On East Timor
Australian Broadcasting Corp. Sat, 4 Sep 1999 16:34 AEST
Militias can't stop independence: UN envoy
The United Nations says threats of civil war can be dealt with as East Timor begins reconciliation.
The UN envoy to East Timor, Jamsheed Marker, says he will have talks in Jakarta and New York on the next phase of moving the territory to independence.
The UN envoy says the militias cannot overturn the vote for independence, and today he stated clearly that the UN will not accept militia attempts to partition East Timor.
He says the UN will use its new authority to continue discussion and persuasion in Jakarta and East Timor.
"We're hoping that with the return of Xanana to the area and the views he's expressed on reconciliation. And what the Bishops have been doing," Mr Marker said.
"We have a lot of very effective instruments at our disposal, not to mention the UN presence there."
Reuters 3.26 a.m. ET (730 GMT) September 4, 1999
World Urges Indonesia To Keep Lid On East Timor
SINGAPORE The world community urged Indonesia Saturday to keep a lid on explosive tensions in East Timor after the bloodied territory voted overwhelmingly for independence.
Near neighbors Australia and New Zealand, as well as Indonesia's biggest aid donor Japan, said it was up to Jakarta to guard against any bloody reprisals by anti-independence forces.
"Japan continues to pay keen attention to the situation in East Timor and will make further representations to the Indonesian government to fulfil its responsibilities for security as necessary,'' Japan's foreign minister said in a statement.
Earlier, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan announced in New York that 78.5 percent of East Timor's more than 450,000 voters had opted for independence in Monday's U.N.-organized referendum.
Fear of reprisals by pro-Jakarta militias, backed by elements of the Indonesian military, tempered enthusiasm at the result.
Within hours the militias began an armed build-up in the East Timorese capital, Dili, and shots were fired near the local U.N. compound where about 150 people were sheltering from the violent anti-independence mobs.
Many people were fleeing Dili or taking refuge in churches.
East Timor has chafed under Jakarta's rule since Indonesian troops invaded it in 1975. Jakarta declared East Timor a province in 1976 in a move never recognized by the United Nations.
The chief of the U.N. mission in East Timor said Saturday that Monday's vote reflected the majority's clear desire to shake off Indonesian rule but he said the future was still uncertain.
"It doesn't yet have independence. It begins a transition to independence,'' Ian Martin told Reuters.
"There clearly is a risk (of violence). Indeed, some of it is going on around the country. It depends on the leadership of the East Timorese and it depends on the Indonesian security forces.''
Indonesian President B.J. Habibie said he understood many people in Indonesia and East Timor would feel bitter about the result but appealed for calm in the territory and said Jakarta would honor its commitment to allow it independence.
The vote for independence has still to be ratified by Indonesia's top legislative body, which does not meet until next month, and Indonesia retains responsibility for security.
East Timor's former colonial ruler, Portugal, which quit the colony before Indonesia's invasion, hailed the referendum as a first, irreversible step toward statehood.
But Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Guterres said the international community could not sit back and do nothing if Jakarta proved incapable of dealing with the situation.
Australia said it was working on a proposal for a small peacekeeping force to be sent to East Timor if requested. A fully fledged U.N. peacekeeping force would take months to deploy.
"Australia will stand by the people of East Timor at this time,'' Foreign Minister Alexander Downer told reporters.
Human rights group Amnesty International condemned Indonesia's failure to stem violence in East Timor, saying some 4,000 local U.N. workers were in serious danger.
"Everyone in East Timor is now at risk,'' Amnesty said.
The Philippines, a close neighbor of East Timor, spoke of a possible exodus of refugees but said the numbers would not pose a problem. East Timor has a tiny population of 800,000 people.
Thailand also called for restraint to avoid a bloodbath.
For many East Timorese though, both in exile and inside the territory, the result of the referendum was a sweet moment.
"Excited... tears running down my face, happiness,'' said Australian-based resistance member Alfredo Fereira.