U.N. to delay East Timor vote
June 22, 1999
"We have delayed it briefly but the ballot will go ahead in the month of August and the East Timorese will have a free choice," Annan told reporters.
The U.N. is organizing the vote, which will give residents of the former Portuguese colony the opportunity to decide between autonomy under Indonesian rule or complete independence.
Annan said the two- or three-week delay was to ensure that security and logistical measures are in place at the time of the vote.
Indonesia occupied East Timor in 1975, after a Portuguese pullout, and annexed it a year later. The international community, however, has never recognized the annexation.
Violence has escalated in the territory since January, when Indonesia reversed a long-standing policy and announced it would grant independence to East Timor if its 800,000 people rejected autonomy.
Rival factions supporting both positions promised to put down their arms by July 5 in preparation for the vote. But so far, the sides have come to no agreement about disarmament and withdrawal from the troubled interior.
U.N. police head for troubled East Timor
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