18 May 2001 -- The security situation in East Timor is good as the territory makes progress towards the 30 August elections for a Constituent Assembly - the precursor to a parliament, the United Nations Security Council was told today by a top UN peacekeeping official.
At the Council's day-long consideration of the developments in the territory, UN Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Hédi Annabi said the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) had registered 390,000 East Timorese and efforts were continuing to complete the registration exercise by the 20 June deadline.
Regarding refugees, no tangible progress had been made, but discussions between UNTAET and the Indonesian authorities continued, he said, noting that Jakarta had informed the UN mission that it had rescheduled for June a plan to undertake a one-day registration of the refugees in West Timor.
Commenting on Indonesia's decree of 24 April on the work of an ad hoc human rights tribunal, Mr. Annabi said the time limit imposed by the ruling excluded from prosecution the massacres committed before the August 1999 referendum and that the UN had urged the Indonesian authorities to reissue the decree without temporal restrictions. Concerning the recent light sentences handed out by a Jakarta court in the case of the murders of three UN personnel, Mr. Annabi stressed that given the gravity of the crimes, "that could not be the last word."
In his address to the Council, Xanana Gusmão, the President of the National Council of Timorese Resistance (CNRT), reaffirmed East Timor's commitment to a process of reconciliation, but noted continuing concerns about the situation at the borders where, he said, militia groups continued to reign with impunity. On the economic front, Mr. Gusmão said that East Timor would soon set up a group to work full-time on strategic development planning, which is being supported by the World Bank. He thanked the international community for assisting East Timor in maintaining freedom, saying, "We will reciprocate with the building of a democratic country."
The Council also heard from East Timor's Cabinet minister in charge of foreign affairs, José Ramos-Horta, who reported dramatic progress in all sectors in the territory. In an effort to encourage political plurality, the CNRT will be replaced by an even more encompassing instrument - the National Pact, he said.
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