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East Timor: UN, Indonesia agree on border demarcation plan

East Timor: UN, Indonesia agree on border demarcation plan

In a preliminary step towards finalizing territorial boundaries, the United Nations and Indonesia have agreed on plans to survey and demarcate the border between East and West Timor, the UN Transitional Administration (UNTAET) said today.

The agreement on Border Demarcation Reconnaissance was made at a Monday meeting of the Tactical Coordination Working Group in Atambua, West Timor. Dates for the survey are expected to be finalized within a few days.

The working group, which includes representatives from UNTAET’s Peacekeeping Force (PKF) and Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI), also discussed the establishment of a new Border Control Service post and ways to improve the repatriation of East Timorese refugees currently living in camps across the border.

In December, UN and Indonesian delegations had agreed at a special technical meeting on border demarcation in Jakarta that a reconnaissance of the border should be undertaken in February.

The reconnaissance survey will study the riverbanks, river islands, customary usage and technical issues, followed by a number of technical steps prior to the resolution of the location of the borderline.

Meanwhile, East Timor’s Constituent Assembly today pushed to 16 March the final vote and signing ceremony for the territory’s first constitution.

After an hour-long debate on how much time was needed for a nationwide public review of the draft constitution, members voted overwhelming for the one-week delay – 62 in favour, 2 against, 4 abstentions, with 20 absent.

An initial proposal for a two-week delay was rejected by majority party FRETILIN over concerns that it would interfere with the 15 March to 12 April presidential election campaign. Minority parties UDT and PSD argued that more time was needed for the public review process.