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Annan speaks out against allegations of irregularities in UN-backed East Timor vote

Annan speaks out against allegations of irregularities in UN-backed East Timor vote

Kofi Annan
Secretary-General Kofi Annan has spoken out against suggestions by an Indonesian tribunal - which is trying human rights abuse cases that occurred in East Timor - that there were irregularities in the United Nations-sponsored 1999 popular consultation to determine the future of the territory.

"These irregularities are alleged to have contributed to the widespread violence that engulfed the territory in September 1999," a statement issued late Wednesday in New York by a spokesman for the Secretary-General said. "These allegations are false."

The statement also endorsed the concerns voiced by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mary Robinson, over the proceedings at the Ad Hoc Human Rights Tribunal in Jakarta. In its first verdict, the court found the former Governor of East Timor, Abilio Soares, guilty of crimes against humanity and sentenced him to three years.

In his statement, Mr. Annan noted that responsibility for security throughout the popular consultation process rested at all times with the Indonesian authorities, not with the UN Mission in East Timor (UNAMET), as set out in the agreements of 5 May 1999 which led to the UN-backed ballot.

The Secretary-General also pointed out that an independent electoral commission certified the results, after a close scrutiny of complaints, and that not one ballot box was unaccounted for.

In addition, recruitment to work for UNAMET was open to all qualified East Timorese, regardless of their political beliefs, said the statement, which also noted that the announcement of the result on 4 September 1999 was in accordance with planned procedures, in consultation with the Indonesian Government.

"Therefore it cannot be concluded that the large-scale, organized and coordinated violence of September and October 1999, following the announcement of the result of the popular consultation, was a consequence of any irregularities in the ballot, bias or abdication of security responsibilities on the part of UNAMET," the statement said. "It should also be recalled that in the violence, United Nations local staff were killed because they worked for UNAMET and United Nations property was systematically looted and destroyed."

Mr. Annan reiterated the UN's offer to make available to the Ad Hoc Tribunal, upon request of the Indonesian authorities, evidence in connection with these or other relevant issues.