Subject: AN: ET yet to issue border passes

E TIMOR YET TO ISSUE BORDER-CROSSING PASSES TO CITIZENS

ATAMBUA, April 17 (ANTARA-TNA) - The East Timorese government has yet to issue border-crossing passes (PLBs) to those among its people wishing to go to East Nusatenggara in Indonesia although it had already signed a temporary land border agreement with Indonesia, a local source said.

The temporary land-border agreement was signed in Dili, capital of East Timor, last April 9.

"Although the two governments have signed the agreement, the East Timorese government has yet to issue border-crossing passes to East Timorese citizens wishing to enter areas within East Nusa Tenggara. Thereby the East Timorese authorities fail to accelerate the reconciliation process among the East Timorese people," a former East Timorese refugee leader, Pedro Sousa, said here on Saturday.

He said if the policy on border-crossing passes was implemented consistently, meetings between people from both sides of the border could take place frequently and thus accelerate the reconciliation process.

Thousands of East Timorese fled to the neighboring Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara in the unrest that followed the United Nations-sponsored people's ballot in August 1999 that showed most East Timorese preferred independence over wide-ranging autonomy as an Indonesian province.

Many of those East Timorese refugees are still living in the Indonesian province.

Pedro believed there was another reasons behind the East Timorose authorities' failure to issue border-crossing passes besides lack of funds to print the passes.

It was possible the East Timorese government was afraid about the possibility that if East Timorese people go to East Nusa Tenggara they might not want to come back, he said.

Domi Jos Battu, another local public figure shared similar opinion saying that the issuance of border-crossing passes would be able to settle local problems and other customs issues as the people living in the border areas were closely related to each other. (ANTARA-TNA)--E002


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