|Subject: AFP: East Timor voter registration on
Date: Sat, 24 Jul 1999 12:12:15 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
Received from Joyo Indonesian News: East Timor voter registration on target: UNAMET
DILI, East Timor, July 21 (AFP) - Voter registration for East Timor's self-determination poll next month is on target, the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) said Wednesday.
"We are well on target for August 4. The rhythm of the half-day registration yesterday (Tuesday) was higher than ever. The registration has increased," UNAMET spokesman David Wimhurst said here.
He said all 200 registration centers throughout the troubled former Portuguese colony were open on Tuesday morning, but closed for the afternoon so that registration papers could be escorted back to the territory's capital Dili under guard.
He said that the same pattern of a half-day closure every five days would be followed throughout the registration period which began on July 16 and is scheduled to end on August 4.
The ballot for East Timorese to decide on whether they will accept an offer of autonomy under Indonesian rule is set for between August 21 and 23, security conditions permitting.
The collected registration papers, details of identification documents and voter lists will be sent to Sydney, Australia for computer processing.
Wimhurst also said that UNAMET had distributed 5,000 posters calling on people to register and thousands of booklets detailing Indonesia's offer of integration with broad autonomy.
The booklets are in the local Tetum language as well as in Portuguese and English.
Jakarta and Lisbon agreed at the United Nations in May to conduct a poll in East Timor, which was invaded by Indonesia in 1975 and annexed the following year, to determine if its people wanted to accept the autonomy offer.
Indonesian President B.J. Habibie has said Jakarta may let East Timor go if its people reject the offer.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has already postponed the vote once from August 8 because of violence blamed on army-backed militias which are against independence.
Wimhurst said UNAMET officials were meeting later Wednesday to discuss how to register East Timor's estimated 60,000 internally displaced people driven from their homes by the violence between pro- and anti-independence groups.
Human rights groups say most of them have been thrown out of their villages and their houses burned by pro-Indonesian militias.