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DATE=6/23/99 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT NUMBER=2-250987 TITLE=INDONESIA / EAST TIMOR (L-ONLY) BYLINE=PATRICIA NUNAN DATELINE=JAKARTA CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: THE INDONESIAN GOVERNMENT HAS REACTED WITH SURPRISE TO THE DECISION BY THE UNITED NATIONS TO DELAY THE PLANNED INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM ON EAST TIMOR BY AT LEAST TWO WEEKS. AS PATRICIA NUNAN REPORTS FROM JAKARTA, THE DECISION COMES AS 70 U-N ELECTION COORDINATORS HAVE ARRIVED IN THE DISPUTED TERRITORY TO BEGIN PREPARATIONS FOR THAT BALLOT. TEXT: FOREIGN MINISTER ALI ALATAS SAYS HE THINKS IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO DELAY THE REFERENDUM PAST AUGUST EIGHTH -- THE DATE IT WAS ORIGINALLY SCHEDULED. MR. ALATAS SAYS THE SECURITY SITUATION IN EAST TIMOR IS CONDUCIVE TO HOLDING THE REFERENDUM ON TIME AND HE WANTS THE UNITED NATIONS TO EXPLAIN ITS REASONS FOR THE DELAY. U-N SECRETARY-GENERAL KOFI ANNAN ANNOUNCED TUESDAY THAT THE REFERENDUM WOULD BE PUSHED BACK DUE TO SECURITY CONCERNS AND LOGISTICAL PROBLEMS. THE UNITED NATIONS SAYS THE POLL WILL STILL BE HELD DURING THE MONTH OF AUGUST. MEANWHILE, 70 U-N ELECTION OFFICIALS ARRIVED IN EAST TIMOR TO BEGIN PREPARATIONS FOR THE REFERENDUM. THEIR IMMEDIATE TASK WILL BE TO COORDINATE WITH VILLAGE CHIEFS AHEAD OF THE VOTER REGISTRATION PROCESS -- DUE TO BEGIN IN MID-JULY. THE ELECTION OFFICIALS WILL BE PART OF A U-N FORCE EXPECTED TO REACH NINE HUNDRED PEOPLE. THE POLL ON EAST TIMOR'S FUTURE STATUS IS INTENDED TO END OVER TWO DECADES OF BLOODSHED IN THE TERRITORY, WHICH BEGAN WHEN THE INDONESIAN MILITARY INVADED THE FORMER PORTUGUESE COLONY IN 1975. RESIDENTS WILL VOTE ON WHETHER TO ACCEPT THE INDONESIAN GOVERNMENT PLAN OF WIDE-RANGING AUTONOMY FOR EAST TIMOR. IF THEY REJECT THAT PLAN, THE GOVERNMENT WILL CONSIDER GRANTING EAST TIMOR FULL INDEPENDENCE. SUPPORTERS OF INDEPENDENCE FOR EAST TIMOR BASED IN JAKARTA HAVE REACTED POSITIVELY TO THE NEWS OF THE POSTPONEMENT SAYING THE DELAY WILL BRING MORE STABILITY. BUT THEY WANT THE UNITED NATIONS TO ENSURE THAT PRO-INDONESIA CIVILIAN MILITIAS IN EAST TIMOR ARE DISARMED BEFORE THE REFERENDUM TAKES PLACE. CLASHES BETWEEN PRO-INDONESIA MILITIAS AND RIVAL PRO-INDEPENDENCE GROUPS HAVE INCREASED IN EAST TIMOR SINCE JANUARY, WHEN THE JAKARTA GOVERNMENT FIRST ANNOUNCED IT MAY GRANT THE TERRITORY INDEPENDENCE LATER THIS YEAR. (SIGNED) NEB/PN/GC/JO/KL 23-Jun-99 7:24 AM EDT (1124 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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