Subject: AFP: Pro-independence leaders pledge to work for peaceful Timor vote
Date: Sat, 10 Jul 1999 16:43:25 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

Pro-independence leaders pledge to work for peaceful Timor vote

JAKARTA, July 4 (AFP) - East Timor independence leaders, including jailed Xanana Gusmao and Nobel laureate Jose Ramos Horta, Sunday pledged to work for a peaceful UN-held poll on the future of the territory.

"We reiterated to the minister our strong desire to collaborate with the Indonesian government and UNAMET in order to secure peace and stability so that the vote can take place in a peaceful atmosphere," Ramos Horta said after meeting Foreign Minister Ali Alatas at Alatas' office.

Ramos Horta, who was accompanied by Gusmao, Mari Alkatiri, and Joao Carrascalao, was referring to the United Nations Assessment Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) which has deployed ahead of the August ballot.

Ramos Horta, Alkatiri and Carrascalao are all exiles allowed to come to Jakarta to attend a church-organized East Timorese reconciliation dialogue with leaders of pro-Indonesia groups. The dialogue wound up Wednesday.

If the majority of East Timorese chose autonomy under Indonesia, Ramos Horta said he would "persuade" pro-independence Timorese to "accept gracefully the decision of the people".

"Whatever the outcome of the vote ... we will honor it. Our view is that there should be no losers," said the deputy chairman of the National Council of Resistance of East Timor (CNRT), which is headed by Gusmao.

Ramos Horta added he was satisfied with assurances given by Alatas on security in the run-up to the vote.

"It is not at all in the interests of Indonesia, having signed the agreement and allowing the people to decide their future, (to be) at the same time trying to undermine it," he said. "It makes no sense."

Jakarta annexed the former Portuguese colony in 1976 but the UN continues to view Lisbon as the official administrator of the territory.

Indonesia and Portugal in May agreed that the UN would hold a "popular consultation" in East Timor in August to determine whether the East Timorese would accept broad autonomy under Indonesia.

Jakarta said in January that East Timor could have independence if the autonomy offer was rejected.

Violence and tension between pro-autonomy and pro-independence camps in the territory has since escalated and the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has delayed the poll for at least two weeks citing security concerns.

The ballot had originally been planned for August 8.

Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Alatas told journalists that at the meeting with pro-independence leaders "remaining problems", including security and the leaders' power-sharing proposal, were discussed.

He said Jakarta was interested in the power-sharing proposal.

Indonesia was committed to ensuring peaceful conditions in East Timor after the ballot because it "would be the country that would bear the brunt of any instability and fighting".

Commenting on reports of attacks on UNAMET personnel and outposts, Alatas said: "We have to be realistic that there are two groups fighting against each other.

"There's no reason for us to be in opposition to UNAMET. It is us who have prosposed this solution, why should we now be against UNAMET, risking criticism of the world?"

Ramos Horta said he could understand the Indonesian reasoning for not allowing him and other exiled pro-independence leaders to visit East Timor.

"We leave it to the Indonesian authority and UNAMET to decide when (will be) the best time for us to return," he said.

Jakarta has barred Gusmao and Ramos Horta from visiting their homeland saying that they may be in danger from their anti-independence enemies.

Ramos Horta, who left East Timor just before Indonesian troops invaded in 1975, said he had no intention of returning to East Timor during his current visit but said he would do so shortly before the ballot results were announced.

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