|Subject: KY/DPA: Carter's observers sent to E. Timor
Date: Sat, 10 Jul 1999 16:55:37 -0400
From: "John M. Miller" <email@example.com>
Carter's observers sent to E. Timor for referendum
07/09/1999 Kyodo News
JAKARTA, July 9 --
The Carter Center dispatched a team to monitor a referendum in East Timor while at the same time expressing concern over mounting violence and tension in the territory, the center said Friday.
In a statement, the center said the observers will monitor preparations for the August referendum to determine East Timor 's political future.
The Carter Center, which was set up by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, has observed 26 elections in 19 countries.
About 400,000 eligible East Timorese voters are scheduled to vote either Aug. 21 or 22 on a wide-ranging special autonomy package offered by Indonesia.
The Carter Center has opened an office in the East Timor capital of Dili. Eight observers will be based there while they conduct a fact-finding mission throughout the territory on the preconditions for free and fair balloting.
"They will be joined by additional observers to monitor events at the time of balloting," the statement said. The mission will remain in the territory for several weeks after the ballot, it said.
In the statement, the former U.S. president expressed more concern about the current political climate in East Timor than about the conduct of the voting itself.
"True democracy requires that people be allowed to cast their votes freely and without intimidation or coercion," he said. "I look forward to staying engaged in the process through our representatives on the ground, all of whom are impartial about the questions before voters."
Clashes between pro-Indonesia militia forces and pro-independence groups have increased in East Timor since Indonesian President B.J. Habibie's announcement in January that his government was willing to grant independence to East Timor if the autonomy offer is rejected.
The United Nations, which will administer the actual voting process, has warned of a further delay in the referendum if the violence does not stop. The referendum was originally scheduled to be held Aug. 8.
Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975 and annexed it the following year. The United Nations, however, still regards Portugal, which had colonized the territory, as its administering power.
Last month the center sent its observers to Indonesia to monitor the June 7 general election which it called one of the most democratic in the world.
---- U.S. electoral watchdog concerned about security in East Timor
07/09/1999 Deutsche Presse-Agentur Copyright (c) 1999, dpa
Dili, East Timor (dpa) - The U.S.-based electoral watchdog Carter Centre, led by former president Jimmy Carter, on Friday expressed concern about security conditions leading up to East Timor 's U.N.-brokered ballot for self-determination.
``Our concern at this point is not as much about the voting itself as it is about the political climate prior to balloting,'' said Carter in a statement released on Friday.
``True democracy requires that people be allowed to cast their votes freely and without intimidation or coercion,'' he added.
The Carter Centre has opened an office in the provincial capital Dili, staffed by eight polling observers, who will monitor preparations for the ``popular consultation'' vote on the future of the troubled territory now scheduled for late August.
``Carter Centre representatives have been welcomed by the United Nations, the Indonesian government, human rights groups and other international monitors in East Timor .
The Atlanta-based Carter Centre has observed 26 elections in 19 countries, including Indonesia's June 7 national election.
The political crisis in East Timor began in 1975 after Indonesian troops invaded the half-island former Portuguese colony.
Although Indonesia annexed East Timor in 1976 as its 27th province, the annexation was never recognised by the international community.
The deadlock was broken in January when President B.J. Habibie announced a plan to offer wide-ranging autonomy or independence to the territory's 890,000 population.
More than 100 people have died since January, mostly as a result of pro-Jakarta militia violence.