Ominous threats to UN mission in East Timor: UN special envoy

Krishna Lalbiharie umlalbi0 at SPAMcc.UManitoba.CA
Tue Aug 17 17:09:56 MDT 1999

Ominous threats to UN mission in East Timor: UN special envoy


  DILI, East Timor - Ominous threats have been made to United Nations
personnel organizing the August 30 ballot on East Timor's future, the
  UN's special envoy said here Monday.

  The revelation by Jamsheed Marker, personal representative of UN
Secretary General Kofi Annan, came as barbed wire was being erected on the
  walls around the Dili regional office of the UN Mission in East Timor

  "We heard, not fully substantiated, but nevertheless ominous reports of
some threats to personnel on the day of the ballot," Marker told a press

  He was speaking at the end of a three-day visit to this former Portuguese
territory whose people are to choose either autonomy under Indonesian
  rule or independence in this month's ballot.

  Marker declined to elaborate on the threats, but on Monday morning
workers were installing the razor wire on the UNAMET office walls to add to
  barbed-wire barricades already in place in the driveway.

  The UN envoy said the reports were being discussed with Indonesian
authorities "because I'm sure this does not have official sanction."

  "UNAMET is not going to be put off course one degree by any rogue element
... We have a job to do and we will do it," he said.

  Marker also said he planned to return to Dili, the capital of East Timor,
a day or two before the ballot.

  "On the 30th we intend to have a very vivid UN presence all over the island.

  "Most of my senior colleagues and myself will probably spend the whole
day in helicopters going from one polling centre to another and to make
  sure that the proper conditions prevail, and to be able to respond to any
situation that might arise."

  During his latest visit to the territory, Marker visited the towns of
Suai, Maliana and Viqueque.

  He noted "definite signs of improvement in the security situation" but he
said "disturbing elements" remain. Among the problems, he said, is a
  refugee camp that has been set up at a church in Suai.

  He also called "deplorable" a recent armed attack on civilians in
Viqueque and said he was committed to the ballot going ahead "under
  peaceful conditions."

  "The fact that so many East Timorese came out to register is a moral
obligation of immense order," he said.

  Commenting on meetings in Jakarta last week, at which he was given
assurances by the Indonesian military and government of their interest in
  the referendum going ahead peacefully, Marker said they were positive-
but that the realities were harsh.

  "We are realistic enough to know that in terms of the harsh realities,
especially what has happened over the past 30 years, the ride will not be as
  smooth as we wish or like," he said.

  "This realization enables us to make the necessary provisions and take
the necessary measures to ensure that the process goes ahead."

  Campaigning for East Timor's historic ballot began on Saturday with
activists on both sides vowing to work for a peaceful campaign, after
  months of violence blamed largely on pro-Indonesian militias.

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