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UN Statements On Eve Of East Timor Ballot

Two Statements Issued Saturday 28th August NZ Time.

Security Council extends UN mission in East Timor for three months to oversee post-ballot period.

Against a backdrop of recent clashes between supporters and opponents of an autonomy plan for East Timor, the Security Council on Friday extended until 30 November the mandate of the United Nations mission in the territory to oversee the transition following next Monday's ballot.

In a unanimous vote, the Council endorsed Secretary-General Kofi Annan's proposal to restructure the UN Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) for the interim phase after the 30 August vote and before the implementation of the poll's results.

Under the Secretary-General's plan, UNAMET would be expanded to include up to 410 civilian police -- with an additional 50 to recruit and train a local police force -- and up to 300 military liaison officers.

The Secretary-General had also recommended that there be an electoral unit to help monitor elections for the Regional Council as well as civil affairs and public information components.

In a Presidential statement following the vote, Ambassador Martin Andjaba of Namibia stressed that the East Timorese have a unique opportunity to decide their own future. "Whatever the outcome of the consultation, members of the Security Council strongly hope that the people of East Timor will respect that decision and work together to build a peaceful and prosperous future," he said.

Secretary-General's envoy says UN intends to proceed with East Timor vote despite recent violence.

The United Nations intends to proceed with next week's historic vote to decide the future of East Timor despite the recent spate of deadly violence in the capital Dili, the top UN official in the territory said Friday.

Ian Martin, the Secretary-General's Special Representative, told a press conference in Dili that the failure to check militia violence has been a problem throughout the consultation process. Members of the UN Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) had witnessed heavily armed police failing to intervene when militia violence was carried out in front of them during Thursday's clashes between pro-independence and pro-autonomy supporters, he said.

"It is essential that the Indonesian police take action to arrest and remove weapons from those who continue to move about freely with them, to threaten -- and as we have seen yesterday -- to kill," Mr. Martin said.

Meanwhile, in New York during a Security Council meeting on East Timor, the representative from Indonesia pledged his country's commitment to ensuring that there is a safe environment, as called for in the 5 May agreement that authorized the ballot.

The Indonesian Government has "exerted serious efforts to ensure that the security situation is conducive to the holding of free, fair and peaceful popular consultations," said Ambassador Makarim Wibisono.

ENDS

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