3 September 1999


Press Release
SC/6721



SECRETARY-GENERAL INFORMS SECURITY COUNCIL PEOPLE OF EAST TIMOR REJECTED SPECIAL AUTONOMY PROPOSED BY INDONESIA

19990903

Coming Days Will Require Patience and Calm, Kofi Annan Stresses

The people of East Timor had voted by 78.5 per cent to 21.5 per cent against the special autonomy proposed by Indonesia, Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Security Council tonight as it met to consider the situation in East Timor.

He told Council members that the East Timorese, turning out in massive numbers for the vote, had expressed their will as to the Territory's future. The vote had resulted in 94,388 (21.5 per cent) in favour and 344,580 (78.5 per cent) against the proposed special autonomy. The East Timorese had thus rejected it and expressed their wish to begin a process of transition towards independence.

The Secretary-General said that after 24 years of conflict, East Timor stood on the threshold of an orderly and peaceful transition. The coming days, however, would require patience and calm. Now was the time for all concerned to seize the opportunity to lay a firm and lasting foundation for cooperation and peace, and to usher in an era of stability and prosperity for all.

Urging those who had voted for the proposed special autonomy not to consider the outcome a loss, and the majority not to consider it a victory, he said there had been no winners or losers. It was time to begin forging an independent East Timor.

The meeting was called to order at 9:02 p.m. and adjourned at 9:10 p.m.

Statement by Secretary-General

Secretary-General Kofi Annan recalled the 5 May Agreements between Portugal, Indonesia and the United Nations, by which he had been asked to determine through a popular referendum whether the people of East Timor would accept or reject a proposed special autonomy within the Republic of Indonesia. The United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET), established by the Security


Security Council - 2 - Press Release SC/6721 4041st Meeting (Night) 3 September 1999

Council on 11 June 1999, to organize and conduct the popular consultation, had registered 451,792 voters in East Timor and around the world.

Announcing the results of the 30 August popular consultation, he said the result of that vote was 94,388 (21.5 per cent) in favour, 344,580 (78.5 per cent) against the proposed special autonomy. The people of East Timor had thus rejected it and expressed their wish to begin a process of transition towards independence.

He said that after 24 years of conflict, East Timor now stood on the threshold of what, it was hoped, would be an orderly and peaceful transition. The coming days, however, would require patience and calm from the people of East Timor. Now was the time for all concerned to seize the opportunity to lay a firm and lasting foundation for cooperation and peace, and to usher in an era of stability and prosperity for all future generations of East Timorese.

Those who had voted to accept the proposed special autonomy must not consider the outcome a loss, the Secretary-General said. Neither should the majority consider it a victory. There had been no winners or losers. Rather, this was the moment for all East Timorese to begin to forge together an independent East Timor.

He called upon the Government of Indonesia to ensure a successful culmination of the process by carrying out its obligations to maintain law and order. He thanked the Governments of both Indonesia and Portugal for their commitment and perseverance, and assured the people of Timor that the United Nations would not fail them in guiding their transition towards independence.

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