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UNAMET - Delay in Registration Period

MEDIA RELEASE

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS ALEXANDER DOWNER

FA 77 11 July 1999 East Timor - UNAMET - Delay in Registration Period

I note that UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan has announced a short, three-day delay to the proposed start of the registration process for the East Timor ballot. Originally scheduled for 13 July, voter registration for the East Timorese is now scheduled (subject to the Secretary-General's final determination to proceed) to commence on 16 July. I understand that this decision does not necessarily mean a delay in the actual ballot date of 21-22 August.

The UN's decision is understandable, especially in the context of the extremely tight timetable to which UNAMET has had to work to date. The recent attacks on UNAMET have also undoubtedly affected UNAMET's capacity to operate freely and to complete the necessary preparations for the ballot.

The Australian Government remains fully committed to supporting the UNAMET process. As Australia and the UN have made already clear, we now look to the Indonesian Government to take the necessary measures to ensure that UNAMET can fulfil what it was sent to East Timor to do - give the East Timorese the opportunity of a free and fair ballot.

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