|Subject: RT: Indoneia Agrees To 50 U.N. Military
Date: Sat, 12 Jun 1999 10:49:00 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Friday June 11 12:09 AM ET Indonesia Agrees To 50 U.N. Military Advisers
By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - Indonesia has agreed for the United Nations to field 50 unarmed U.N. military liaison officers in advance of a crucial August 8 ballot on the future of the territory, U.N. officials reported.
U.N. Security Council members were briefed Thursday on the agreement, reached late last week, by Kieran Prendergast, the U.N. undersecretary-general for political affairs.
Diplomats said Jakarta, responsible for security before the U.N.-organized vote, had resisted deployment of foreign military advisers on its soil to handle contacts with the Indonesian army and had negotiated over their precise numbers.
The council is expected to adopt a resolution Friday to establish formally the U.N. Mission in East Timor, known as UNAMET, and thereby permit the military liaison officers and 270 U.N. civilian police advisers to go to East Timor.
The first police are expected to arrive by June 22.
Despite a tight U.N. schedule before the August vote, the resolution, introduced on May 26, was delayed to allow the 15 days' notice required by the U.S. Congress before endorsing any U.N. field operation.
Indonesia, which controls East Timor, and Portugal, the former colonial power, signed an agreement on May 5 providing for a U.N.-organized ballot on August 8. This will permit the Timorese to choose between wide-ranging autonomy under continuing Indonesian rule or independence.
Jakarta's annexation of the East Timor in 1976, after Portugal had pulled out, has never been recognized by the international community.
Security leading up to the ballot, called a ''consultation,'' has been a key issue. Scores of people have been killed, mainly by anti-independence militias, since Indonesian President B.J. Habibie announced in January his government's willingness to let the territory go if the East Timorese rejected autonomy.
``I think I should make it clear one more time that the consultation will either be free and fair or it will not take place,'' Francesc Vendrell, head of the Asia and Pacific division in the political affairs department, told reporters.
Prendergast told the council that since U.N. political officers opened an office in the East Timor capital, Dili, last month, ``there has been a visible improvement in the security situation, though tensions and intimidation continue.''
But he said in other parts of the half island ``the security situation remains a serious impediment to a credible and fair consultation process,'' according to his briefing paper.
Prendergast called the agreement reached at the end of last week on the military liaison officers ``a very welcome development.'' He said they would be deployed in Dili and 13 districts throughout East Timor as well as in Jakarta.
Vendrell said the United Nations would begin a public information campaign this weekend that would, among other issues, advise voters ``how to cope with offers of money.''