AP NEWS
Related topics

E.Timor Sides Agree on Vote Conduct

June 17, 1999

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ Rival factions in East Timor agreed to cease intimidation and violence today ahead of a referendum on the future of the troubled Indonesian territory.

The pro-independence and pro-autonomy movements agreed on a ``code of conduct″ that also bars the use of guns or money to prod people to vote for either side.

The referendum, supervised by the United Nations, will allow East Timorese to choose between independence and autonomy within Indonesia.

Meanwhile, The Sydney Morning Herald reported today the United Nations would postpone the ballot from a scheduled date of Aug. 8 to Aug. 29, because U.N. conditions requiring that security be established have not been met.

U.N. officials at the organization’s headquarters in New York were not immediately available for comment.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos Horta told Australian Broadcasting Corp. television he supports a delay until the territory is secure enough to ensure a free vote.

The two factions in East Timor signed a peace pact in April, but U.N. officials in East Timor said the level of violence remains high in parts of the former Portuguese colony that was invaded by Indonesia in 1975.

``There has to be an equal opportunity for anyone to campaign for the poll,″ said Benediktus Marbun, a coordinator for the East Timor Peace and Stability Commission.

The commission consists of representatives from the rival movements, U.N. officials and the Indonesian Human Rights Commission.

A U.N. official said the meeting was held in Jakarta because pro-independence groups did not feel safe enough to meet in East Timor. The location also enabled East Timorese rebel leader Jose Alexandre ``Xanana″ Gusmao, who is serving a 20-year sentence under house arrest in Jakarta, to attend.

Marbun declined to comment on Foreign Minister Ali Alatas’ statement Wednesday that Indonesia will not give Ramos Horta a visa for East Timor if he plans to campaign for the territory’s independence.

The commission was to meet again Friday to discuss disarmament, one of the thorniest issues.

AP RADIO
Update hourly