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    UNIS/SG/2347
    31 August 1999
    In Message on Eve of East Timor Consultation, Secretary-General
    Stresses Peace, Restraint and Tolerance

     

    NEW YORK, 30 August (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the text of the message of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the people of East Timor on the eve of the popular consultation there:
     

     I wish to extend my warmest greetings to the people of East Timor on the eve of the consultation on your future.  Allow me, first, to congratulate you for having registered in such large numbers, and having done so with such remarkable patience, courage and dedication to ensuring a better future for your children.  I trust that you will follow up the successful registration process with a successful, inclusive and peaceful voting process at the 200 polling centres run by United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET).

     When I had the privilege of addressing you in June, in advance of the registration, I said that the “popular consultation is not about winning or losing a competition.  It is your chance to settle the question of East Timor peacefully.  It is your opportunity to launch a new era of reconciliation”.  So far, the international community has been extraordinarily impressed with how you have seized on this chance to determine your future.  It is important that the day of voting be a day of peace and calm so that you may all vote in secret, without any fear or hindrance.  The Indonesian authorities, and in particular, the Indonesian police force are responsible for ensuring a peaceful, proper environment.  I appeal to them to do their part to ensure a process that fulfils the commitments of their Government to the United Nations and to the world at large.

     Let me remind you, as I did in June, that the secrecy of the ballot is a sacred obligation for the United Nations.  The UNAMET will ensure that all the ballots are brought to Dili to ensure an orderly count, which may take up to seven days before all votes are verified, and results can be announced.  I salute the leaders on both sides who have pledged to respect the outcome of the ballot, and expect them to match their words with deeds in the weeks to come.  Restraint and tolerance are of critical importance during the period following the vote.  Remember, above all, the choice before you is either acceptance or rejection of the autonomy proposal.  Whatever the outcome, peace remains a prize that must be shared by all East Timorese.  The UNAMET is committed to securing that peace today, and in the future.  It will remain in East Timor after the ballot to carry out its responsibilities in ensuring the result of the vote is properly implemented.  Of that, you can be assured.

     Ultimately, however, it is you, the people of East Timor, who must seize the opportunity of this consultation.  You must embark on the process of reconciliation in order to ensure a better future, regardless of the outcome of tomorrow’s ballot.

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