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World - Asia/Pacific

About the East Timor referendum

August 30, 1999
Web posted at: 12:04 a.m. EDT (0404 GMT)

DILI, East Timor -- Voters of East Timor were casting ballots on Monday in a U.N. organized referendum expected to set the territory on a path to independence from Indonesia. Following are some facts about the referendum.

  • REGISTERED VOTERS: 451,792 people, including 438,513 in East Timor and 13,279 in Australia, Indonesia, Portugal and the United States.

  • POLLING STATIONS: 850 polling stations in 200 centers throughout East Timor, with external polling stations in Australia, Indonesia, Portugal and the United States.

  • STAFF: More than 1,030 international staff, including electoral officers, civilian police advisers and military liaison officers. There are 711 full time local staff, while some 3,600 more were recruited for polling day.

  • THE POPULAR CONSULTATION COST: Estimated at $52,531,000 up to August 31.

  • THE CHOICE: East Timorese will be asked if they accept or reject an autonomy package proposed by Indonesia that offers limited self-determination, including control over some economic, political and social policies including local policing, but excluding defence and international relations. The Indonesian army and police would still be allowed to operate in East Timor.

  • THE QUESTION: "Do you accept the proposed special autonomy for East Timor within the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia? or, Do you reject the proposed special autonomy for East Timor, leading to East Timor's separation from Indonesia?"

    To assist voters, the ballots will have symbols: an Indonesian flag representing acceptance and the flag of the pro-independence National Council for Timorese Resistance representing rejection.

  • THE COUNT: All ballot boxes will be collected and taken to a central counting centre in Dili by international police advisers. The result is expected within a week of the close of the polls and will be announced simultaneously in Dili and New York.

  • POST-BALLOT IMPLICATIONS: If autonomy is accepted, Indonesia is to change its constitution to make East Timor the Special Autonomous Region of East Timor. The change must be approved by Indonesia's People's Consultative Assembly.

    Portugal is to ask the United Nations to remove East Timor from the list of Non-Self-Governing Territories. The United Nations is to remain in East Timor to ensure the autonomy package is implemented.

    If the autonomy package is rejected, Jakarta has agreed to make constitutional changes to rescind legislation that annexed East Timor in 1976, allowing it to revert to its previous status. Indonesia is to withdraw from East Timor and hand over power to the United Nations, which will form a transitional authority until power is handed over to the East Timorese.

    There is no fixed timetable, but the MPR is expected to vote on East Timor's status around mid-October. If the vote is for independence, most observers expect the United Nations to remain for up to five years as the transitional authority.

    Reuters contributed to this report.

    East Timor decides: Indonesia or independence?
    August 29, 1999
    Residents flee East Timor ahead of independence vote
    August 27, 1999
    Timorese leader to be freed; 3 dead in pre-vote violence
    August 26, 1999
    U.N. pushes to keep East Timor vote on schedule
    August 24, 1999

    United Nations Home Page
    Indonesian National Commission on Human Rights
    Indonesian Embassy
      • Government of Indonesia
      • Facts about Indonesia
    East Timor Action Network/U.S.
    East Timor Human Rights Centre
    East Timor: Past, Present and Future
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