Self-Determination in East Timor: The United Nations, the Ballot, and International Intervention

Self-Determination in East Timor: The United Nations, the Ballot, and International Intervention

Self-Determination in East Timor: The United Nations, the Ballot, and International Intervention

Self-Determination in East Timor: The United Nations, the Ballot, and International Intervention

Excerpt

At 9 P. M. on Friday 3 September 1999 in New York, Secretary-General Kofi Annan made his statement to the United Nations Security Council on the result of the East Timor Popular Consultation:

On 5 May 1999, Portugal, Indonesia and the United Nations concluded an 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 3 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 fulfillment 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 favor and 344,580, or 78.5 per cent against the proposed special autonomy.

As the Secretary-General spoke in New York, it was the morning of Saturday 4 September in Dili, the capital of East Timor, and I was simultaneously making the same announcement at the press conference called by UNAMET. The press corps was already greatly reduced . . .

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