|Subject: IHT: UN is biased, Jakarta says
Date: Sun, 01 Aug 1999 11:19:05 -0400
From: sonny inbaraj <firstname.lastname@example.org>
UN Is Biased, Jakarta Says
East Timor Mission Is Called 'Pro-Independence' By Michael Richardson International Herald Tribune, Wed, July 28, 1999
SINGAPORE - Foreign Minister Ali Alatas of Indonesia accused the United Nations on Tuesday of bias in favor of independence for East Timor and said it had failed to move fast enough to establish an effective presence to monitor an election in the disputed territory.
He made his remarks as the UN secretary-general, Kofi Annan, said in New York that sporadic violence in East Timor still prevented him from giving the go-ahead for a self-determination vote next month. The international community has insisted that the balloting must be free and fair.
Mr. Alatas said that almost all of the 4,000 East Timorese recruited by the UN Assistance Mission to East Timor as interpreters, guides and clerical staff were from the ranks of pro-independence supporters.
He also complained that the UN had placed disproportionate blame on pro-integration militia groups for the trouble in the territory in recent months.
''Whether intended or not, UNAMET has become equated as pro-independence,'' Mr. Alatas said in an interview, using the acronym for the UN mission.
''The reports that have come out, and are even sometimes in the secretary-general's reports, are unbalanced. We do not condone resorting to violence by militia groups, but neither can we condone violence and provocation by the pro-independence groups - and that happens.''
In a report to the UN Security Council late Monday, Mr. Annan said that security conditions in East Timor had shown improvement - but that intimidation was still prevalent, mainly by militia groups opposed to independence.
Diplomats said that Mr. Annan might again delay the vote, which the UN calls a consultation, because of security concerns and logistic considerations, but that he had not made a decision.
He delayed the vote last month by about two weeks and started voter registration three days late.
Mr. Annan said Monday that security conditions required for ''a largely technical exercise such as registration are notably less stringent than those which will be necessary for campaigning in the run-up to the consultation.''
The UN is responsible for organizing the vote in East Timor, but Indonesia has to provide the necessary security under an agreement signed in May.
The accord followed the surprise decision of the Indonesian president, B.J. Habibie, in January to offer the East Timorese a choice between special autonomy or independence.
Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and annexed it the following year, claiming to have support from a majority of the population. The annexation has not been recognized by Western governments.
The UN and many Western governments suspect that the Indonesian military, or at least hard-line elements among its officers, opposes independence for East Timor and has been training, arming and encouraging the militia groups to resist it. Mr. Alatas denied this Tuesday.
But at a regional security meeting in Singapore on Monday, both the United States and the European Union called on Indonesia to do more to ensure that a fair vote could take place.
''We are deeply concerned by continuing violence that could create an atmosphere of intimidation and preclude a fair referendum,'' said the U.S. secretary of state, Madeleine Albright. ''We look to the Indonesian government to meet its obligation to create a secure and credible environment for the August vote.''
Mr. Alatas insisted that security conditions in East Timor had improved enough for the ballot to proceed. The vote is tentatively scheduled for Aug. 21 or 22.
''It's generally peaceful in East Timor now,'' Mr. Alatas said. ''I'm quite sure that by the time of the balloting, and even much earlier, we'll have achieved conditions that are conducive for free, fair and peaceful voting.''