International Federation for East Timor
Issue #5: Week ending July 31, 1999
IFET-OP observers spent considerable time this week observing the voter registration in Liquica and around Dili. We have submitted several reports to UNAMET concerning irregularities at certain registration sites. UNAMET officials are very open and responsive to IFET-OP concerns.
A team of IFET-OP observers also visited UNAMET registration sites and interviewed a number of people concerning the Consultation process in the districts of Bobonaro, Same (Manufahi) and Ainaro. We have some serious concerns about the situation in these areas -- especially in terms of security -- and will be commenting on these matters in our next public report on the registration process, which will be released on Monday, August 2.
Accreditation of IFET-OP Observers Continues
The accreditation of IFET-OP observers continues at a furious pace. Over 100 IFET-OP volunteers have now received accreditation. As to visas, the Indonesian government has become more cooperative, and many IFET-OP volunteers are obtaining the required socio/budaya (Social/Cultural) visa, with delays of less than a week. That said, the process is still taking much longer than it should in some consulates. If you are having trouble getting your visa, please communicate your situation to your IFET-OP Country Coordinator, the IFET-OP in Dili, and to the IFET U.N. Representative (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Organizing the Dili Office
IFET-OP continues to improve our operations in East Timor. With the arrival of Tim Howard from New Zealand, the Dili office has an excellent new staff member. Tim has helped to create a number of "tools" for the orientation process (we had our first orientation last week) as well as some useful documents for teams out in the field. In terms of logistics, Garrick Ruiz and Will Seaman have refined our databases to track the arrival and departures of volunteers, as well as their whereabouts while in East Timor. This is especially important as we prepare for the coming flood of volunteers. We're expecting upwards of 20 in the next few days, and hoping to send out our first two "permanent" teams to Baucau and Same at the beginning of the week.
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has announced a postponement of the Consultation vote until Monday, August 30. Barring a significant worsening of the security situation, UNAMET officials do not anticipate any further delays in the date of the poll.
This past week, UNAMET released a song celebrating the Consultation process. Performed by a very popular East Timorese group, the music video plays on UNAMET television nightly, as well as regularly on UNAMET radio. UNAMET teams also bring tapes of the song to outlying villages. Reportedly, the song is very popular and is a very effective means of spreading the UNAMET word.
Voter registration is scheduled to end on Wednesday, August 4. It appears doubtful that UNAMET will extend registration for the general population, based on our conversations with UNAMET personnel. What is perhaps more likely is an extension of voter registration at UNAMET sites in relative proximity to concentrations of internal refugees‹many of whom have not yet been able to register due to military/militia violence and intimidation.
UNAMET will display voter registration lists for five days following the end of the registration period. Individuals can challenge the composition of the registration lists by submitting a challenge to the regional UNAMET office. The Electoral Commission will make the final decision regarding any challenges. During this time, the period of campaigning of pro-independence and pro-autonomy forces will begin. UNAMET is still working out the details‹in terms of a code of conduct‹for this period.
IFET-OP has secured houses in Maliana (district of Bobonaro), Same, and is very close to finalizing arrangements for a house in Ainaro. Our next target areas for housing are Maubisse, Liquica, Los Palos (where housing is already almost definitely assured), and Viqueque.
Making Connections with Other Observer Groups
IFET-OP attended a meeting hosted by Yayasan HAK, an East Timorese non-governmental organization, as part of an initial effort to coordinate efforts and to establish cooperative relations between both "domestic" (East Timorese and Indonesian) and international observer missions.
Staff from the Dili office met with a representative of the Australia East Timor International Volunteers Project (AETIVP), another international observer project. AETIVP is sending 30 observers to East Timor, approximately 23 of whom speak Indonesian very well. The group approached IFET-OP to begin discussions about the possibility of establishing a working relationship that would lead to our establishing joint teams in the field (which would operate on a consensus basis), while maintaining the integrity of our different organizations. Such a relationship could prove to be of great benefit to both groups, and we continue to have discussions with them.
East Timor field office (Dili)
Tel. 62-390-321969 fax:62-390-321264
International coordinator (New York)
2 August 1999
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