Subject: GU: Deadly war games put East Timor vote in doubt
Date: Sat, 10 Jul 1999 16:47:34 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <>

Received from Joyo Indonesian News:

The Guardian [UK] Tuesday July 6, 1999

Deadly war games put East Timor vote in doubt

John Aglionby in Same, East Timor

Indonesian police are failing to protect United Nations staff in East Timor from attacks by pro-Jakarta militias intent on disrupting next month's referendum on independence from Indonesia, a senior UN official claimed yesterday.

As the mission finished evacuating international monitors from three of the territory's 13 districts, British police - sent to East Timor as part of an international police presence to help create conditions for a free vote - complained that local officials were proving inflexible and uncooperative. Fear has gripped the territory since the Indonesian army established the militias early this year.

Under the UN's mandate for supervising the vote on the territory's status, the Indonesian police are solely responsible for security before and during the referendum. The UN can deploy 270 unarmed policemen restricted to advising their Indonesian counterparts.

Ian Martin, the UN chief in East Timor, described the Indonesian police's response to the latest militia attack on UN personnel in the town of Liquica on Sunday, as "an inexcusable lack of action".

The UN staff had been trying to evacuate wounded members of an aid convoy which had been set upon by the militiamen earlier in the day.

Mr Martin, formerly head of Amnesty International, added: "There is a certain pattern of incidents, of threats, from militias to UN personnel, and that is a major concern to us."

The East Timorese were initially scheduled to vote on August 8 for either independence or wide-ranging autonomy within Indonesia, which annexed the former Portuguese territory in 1976.

Deteriorating security and the UN's slow deployment led Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, to decide last month that the ballot should be postponed by at least a fortnight.

With less than 10 days left before voter registration is due to begin, fewer than half the UN's 900 electoral officers and civilian police are in place in their districts. But that delay is coming to be seen as almost irrelevant, because worsening security makes it unclear whether a legitimate vote can be held any time soon.

"The way things are going at the moment," one UN official said at the weekend, "I doubt a free and fair ballot will be possible before Christmas. There is just too much intimidation."

Among those finding themselves almost completely stymied by local officials are Detective Sergeant Philip Caine from Hertfordshire and Constable David Pape from Lincolnshire, part of the seven-man British contingent. The two are based 75 miles south of the East Timor capital Dili, in the hill town of Same.

"We've been here more than a week and have not even been able to arrange a meeting with the local police chief to discuss what we should be doing," said Sgt Caine, a veteran of the UN's operations in Bosnia. Nor have they been able to meet the local militia commander.

It is the same with the senior administrator in the area, the regent: when it seemed that a meeting had been confirmed, he went away.

"We seem to be going round in circles," PC Pape said. "Whenever we try and do anything they quote the mandate at us... We've been told we can't investigate [reports of intimidation and terror against voters] because we are only here as advisers.

"We are meant to be impartial but how can we make an impartial assessment of the security situation to HQ if we do not investigate the reports we receive?"

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