Press Releases

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    31 August 1999
    Secretary-General, Pleased over ‘Extraordinary’ Turnout in East Timor,
    Congratulates Portugal and Indonesia for Spirit of Cooperation

     Kofi Annan also Congratulates Staff of UN Mission in East Timor for Courageous Efforts


    NEW YORK, 30 August (UN Headquarters) -- The following statement was issued today by Secretary-General Kofi Annan:

     I am pleased to report that, the people of East Timor turned out in the hundreds of thousands on Monday, 30 August, to express their will as to their future.  Despite the violence which had again threatened the process in the week preceding the poll, all 200 polling centres in the Territory were open on polling day, and the voters cast their ballots in a calm and dignified manner.

     While the last reports are still coming in to UNAMET, it is clear that the turnout has been extraordinary.  Well over 90 per cent of all registered voters have cast their ballots.

     On the whole, polling proceeded smoothly, a testament to the determination and patience of the voters, despite some intimidation by militias outside some polling stations.  It is with great dismay and sorrow that I have learned today of the murder of Joel Lopez Gomes, an East Timorese staff member of UNAMET, and am awaiting a full report.  My heartfelt condolences go out to the family of Mr. Lopez Gomes.

     Despite this deplorable act of violence and other sporadic incidents, I wish to pay tribute to the efforts of the Indonesian authorities, and particularly of the police on polling day.  The role of the security forces will be even more important in the coming days as ballot boxes are transported to the central counting station and the count begins.  During this period, I call upon all East Timorese groups to exercise the utmost restraint and patience, to ensure that the will of the East Timorese people may be fully heard.

     The popular consultation represents a milestone in the implementation of the Agreements signed on 5 May 1999 by Portugal and Indonesia.  I would therefore like warmly to congratulate both Portugal and Indonesia for the spirit of cooperation and collegiality with which they have brought the process thus far, as well as the staff of UNAMET for their courageous efforts.  I very much look forward to working with both parties and the people of East Timor to implement the result of the ballot, which must be accepted with maturity as determining the future of East Timor.

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