|Subject: RT: U.N. Council establishes operation in
Date: Sat, 12 Jun 1999 11:40:47 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
U.N. Council establishes operation in East Timor 02:34 p.m Jun 11, 1999 Eastern
By Evelyn Leopold
UNITED NATIONS, June 11 (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council on Friday formally established a U.N. mission in East Timor, thereby allowing police and military advisers to help organise a crucial August 8 ballot on the territory's future.
In a resolution adopted unanimously, the council decided to create until August 31 the U.N. Mission in East Timor, known as UNAMET, to organise a ``direct, secret and universal ballot'' that would permit some 400,000 East Timorese to choose between wide- ranging autonomy under Indonesian rule or independence.
The council authorised the deployment of up to 280 U.N. civilian police to advise their Indonesian counterparts and some 50 military liaison officers who will handle contacts with the Indonesian army.
A contingent of some 90 U.N. political officers have already set up an operation in East Timor and may open its first voter registration office in the half-island's capital of Dili sometime next week.
Despite a tight schedule before the August vote, the resolution, first 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.-organised ballot on August 8. Jakarta's annexation of the East Timor in 1976, after Portugal had pulled out, has never been recognised 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
But before voter registration gets under way, Secretary-General Kofi Annan has to certify ``that the necessary security situation exists for the peaceful implementation the consultation process,'' according to a May 7 council resolution endorsing the accords.
``There are security and political issues that will need to be addressed before the secretary-general can make the determination that we can proceed on the operational phases,''
Francesc (eds:correct) Vendrell, head of the Asia and Pacific division in the U.N. political affairs department, told reporters.
He said because of the short time left before the vote UNAMET still faced ``serious logistical problems'' despite good cooperation with Indonesian authorities.
Kieran Prendergast, the U.N. undersecretary-general for political affairs, told the council on Thursday that since U.N. staff arrived in 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 East Timor ``the security situation remains a serious impediment to a credible and fair consultation process.''
He said that U.N. personnel who visited all parts of the island reported that ``a climate of violence, fear and intimidation pervades much daily life in many areas outside Dili,'' according to his written notes.
Condemning all acts of violence, the council called for all armed groups to put down their weapons. The resolution stressed that Indonesia was responsible for security to ensure the vote was carried out ``in an atmosphere free of intimidation.''