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    UNIS/SG/2353
    6 September 1999
     People of East Timor Reject Proposed Special Autonomy, Express Wish to Begin
     Transition to Independence, Secretary-General Informs Security Council
    Announcing Vote Result, 21.5 Per Cent in Favour-78.5 Per Cent Against,
     Kofi Annan Says UN Will Not Fail East Timorese, Calls for End to Violence

     

    NEW YORK, 3 September (UN Headquarters) -- Following is the statement by Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Security Council this evening, announcing the result of the vote of the popular consultation in East Timor:
     

     On 5 May 1999, Portugal, Indonesia and the United Nations concluded a historic set of agreements intended to resolve the long-standing issue of East Timor.  These 5 May Agreements requested me to determine, through a popular consultation based upon a universal, direct, and secret ballot, whether the East Timorese people would accept or reject a proposed special autonomy for East Timor within the unitary Republic of Indonesia.

     To enable me to fulfil this request, the United Nations Security Council established on 11 June 1999 the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET), which proceeded to organize and conduct the popular consultation.  It registered 451,792 voters in East Timor and around the world, in a registration process which the Electoral Commission, a body composed of three independent commissioners, deemed to be a sound basis for the conduct of the consultation.

     Thus, on 30 August 1999, in a show of courage and determination, the people of East Timor turned out in massive numbers to vote in the popular consultation, expressing their will as to the future of the Territory.  The votes cast have now been counted and the Electoral Commission has assessed all outstanding complaints, and certified the results of the popular consultation process.  Therefore, in fulfilment of the task entrusted to me by the 5 May Agreements, I hereby announce that the result of the vote is 94,388, or 21.5 per cent in favour, and 344,580, or 78.5 per cent, against the proposed special autonomy.

     The people of East Timor have thus rejected the proposed special autonomy and expressed their wish to begin a process of transition towards independence.

     After 24 years of conflict, East Timor now stands on the threshold of what we all hope will be a process of orderly and peaceful transition towards independence.  The coming days, however, will require patience and calm from the people of East Timor.  I hardly need stress how important it is for its leaders to exercise wisdom and reason.

     Now is the time for all concerned to seize the opportunity to lay a firm and lasting foundation for cooperation and peace, and to usher in an era of stability and prosperity for all future generations of East Timorese.

     Those who voted to accept the proposed special autonomy must not consider this outcome a loss.  Nor indeed should the majority consider it a victory; for there are no winners and no losers today.  Rather, this moment heralds the opportunity for all East Timorese to begin to forge together a common future in what is to become an independent East Timor.

     Today, I ask all parties to bring to an end the violence which for 24 years has caused untold suffering to East Timor.  I ask them to begin in earnest a process of dialogue and reconciliation through the East Timor Consultative Commission.  I call upon the Government of Indonesia, which made possible the consultation process through a statesmanlike initiative of the President of the Republic, to ensure its successful culmination by carrying out its responsibility to maintain law and order in the Territory.

     I should like to thank both Indonesia and Portugal for their commitment and perseverance in this process.  I am confident that the Governments will fulfil their remaining obligations under the 5 May Agreements.  Let me assure both Governments that the United Nations will continue to work with them to ensure the implementation of the results of the consultation through a peaceful and orderly process.  Let me also assure the people of East Timor that the United Nations will not fail them in guiding East Timor in its transition towards independence.
     

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