The East Timor iIndependence referendum result has just been announced in New York by Secretary General Kofi Annan. 78% voted against the proposal for special autonomy an, as expected, overwhelming result in favour of independence.
Paraphrased notes from Annan's speech - we will post the full text as soon as it is available.
"The UN Security council established Unamet on 11 June to hold a referendum.
For the popular consultation 451,792 voters were registered. The Electoral Commission deemed the registration to be sound.
On 30 August in a show of courage and determination the people of East Timor turned out in very large numbers.
The votes have been counted and checked.
Therefore in fulfillment of the task entrusted to me I now declare the result.
The result is 94,388 - 21% in favour and 344,580 - 78% against the proposal for special autonomy.
The people have expressed their clear wish to proceed down the path to independence. After 24 years of conflict East Timor this is now an opportunity for peace. The coming days will however require patience on both sides.
I stress the importance of wisdom and reason at this stage by all those involved.
Now is the time to lay a firm foundation for peace. Those who voted to accept the autonomy must not consider this a loss, nor should those who voted against consider this a victory.
There are no winners and no losers today. Rather this moment heralds an opportunity to begin a new beginning.
I ask all the parties to bring to an end the violence that has brought so much pain. I ask them to start a process of reconciliation.
I call upon Indonesia whose President in a statemanlike fashion initiated this referenda to ensure a successful trasition by keeping the peace."
In its 1PM Bulletin (9am East Timor Time) Radio New Zealand reported that East Timor is braced for violence. Aid agencies estimate 50 to 100,000 are likely to flee. 50,000 of the approximately 800,000 inhabitants have already fled.
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