Subject: UN says Indon lets it set up civil administration in East Timor

UN says Indonesia lets it set up civil administration in East Timor

UNITED NATIONS, Sept 28 (AFP) - Indonesia has agreed to let the United Nations set up a civil administration East Timor before parliament in Jakarta formally rescinds its annexation of the territory, a senior UN official said on Tuesday.

Jamsheed Marker, special envoy for UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, said "the assembly will be taking a decision but we cannot wait for it to do that. The Indonesians have agreed that we should start making preparations."

Marker was speaking to reporters after holding talks here with the Indonesian and Portuguese foreign ministers, Ali Alatas and Jaime Gama.

The talks were chaired by Annan. Portugal was involved because it is the former colonial power in East Timor.

Under a May 5 agreement with the UN covering the August 30 ballot on self-determination in East Timor, Indonesia was to remain in charge of the territory until its parliament ratified the result of the vote.

But, Marker said, Tuesday's talks took "due account of changes in the situation and the need to fill the vacuum in East Timor" created by the explosion of anti-independence violence there.

The ministers agreed that "the United Nations will take up the slack to get civil society going again", he said.

"It will try to meet basic requirements starting with housing, then electricity, sanitation and power."

Alatas tried to insist that Indonesia remained formally in charge of civilian administration, even though he admitted that many civil servants had departed.

"Phase Three will begin after the People's Consultative Assembly has confirmed or ratified the decision of the balloting. That will be in November," he said.

"The deputy governor has returned but we have to admit that many government officials have left, including teachers, doctors and judges," he said.

The Australian-led multinational force "is de facto in charge of security," he said. "We have handed over to it and we have withdrawn martial law. On the civil side we are still in charge."

When pressed to state publicly that Indonesia was ready to hand over the territory earlier than foreseen in the May 5 agreement, Alatas testily replied: "Phase Three starts in November. Am I speaking Greek?"

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