|Subject: AFP: US issues strong warning to Indon on
Timor vote intimidation
Date: Sat, 14 Aug 1999 09:42:41 -0400
US warns against Indonesian intimidation on East Timor vote
WASHINGTON, Aug 12 (AFP) - The United States on Thursday issued a strong warning to Indonesia over hints that an East Timorese vote for independence might result in renewed civil war.
"This is intimidation, or worse," State Department spokesman James Rubin said, quoting a statement to be released by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
"It is unacceptable," he said referring to comments from "some Indonesian officials and anti-independence militia leaders" that voting for independence on August 30 "will result in extensive violence or even civil war."
Rubin reiterated deep US concern over ongoing violence that has engulfed the province in the run-up to the UN-run referendum, campaigning for which begins formally this weekend.
"It is critical both to ensure a fair vote and to preserve the credibility of Indonesia's own transition that Jakarta meet its obligation to provide a secure environment and promote the disarmament of all paramilitary forces in East Timor," he said.
Paramilitary forces, widely believed to follow orders from the Indonesian military, have been blamed for some of the worst violence.
Rubin's comments came as Jakarta agreed to a plan to strengthen the UN presence in East Timor to improve security after the vote and as officials from the United Nations, Indonesia and Portugal -- the province's former colonial ruler -- began meetings to discuss remaining problems in ballot, the campaign period and the aftermath.
Indonesian Foreign Minister Ali Alatas said Jakarta had accepted a bolstering of the UN presence but said it would "not become (an armed) peacekeeping force."
Indonesian police with UN advisors will continue to provide security in the period between the vote and Jakarta's decision on whether to accept the outcome of the polls, expected in October or November, he said.
Rubin said Washington was keen on maintaining a strong international staff in East Timor, saying: "The United States will do its part to make sure this UN presence remains a robust one."
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has recommended that the number of UN civilian police be raised from the current 280 to about 410 while the military liaison officers be increased from the current 50 to some 300.
Rubin, again quoting Albright, reiterated the US view that the Indonesian authorities and the paramilitaries must adhere to the election outcome.
She "takes this opportunity to remind all concerned, in the strongest possible terms, that they are obligated to respect the results of the referendum and provide genuine security for all East Timorese."