The integration of the former Portuguese colony of East Timor with Indonesia now appears certain according to Reuters reporting from the East Timorese capital of Dili.
The integration of the former Portuguese colony of East Timor with Indonesia now appears certain according to Reuters reporting from the East Timorese capital of Dili. The East Timorese Popular Assembly, claiming to represent the territory's 650,000 people, unanimously approved a petition for integration at a special meeting in Dili on Monday (31 May).
Integration was the only item on the agenda for the assembly's first -- and probably last -- meeting which was boycotted by several countries invited to observe it, including Australia. Australia has insisted on some form of United Nations participation in East Timor, despite the assembly's decision.
According to Reuters, reporting from Djakarta, Indonesian government officials blamed Australia for the virtual diplomatic boycott of the Popular Assembly meeting in Dili. Among other countries which stayed away were, Singapore, the Philippines and Papua-New Guinea. Countries that sent observers to the Assembly were, Thailand, Malaysia, India, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.
After a 90 minute debate, the Assembly decided by acclamation to petition the Indonesian Government to absorb East Timor immediately. An East Timorese delegation is likely to go to Djakarta within the next 10 days to convey the request, which is certain to be approved. Formal integration within two or three months would follow. East Timorese officials in Djakarta, quoted by Reuters have already said that East Timor will become the 27th province of the Indonesian Republic.
The East Timorese Provisional Government said that the Popular Assembly was chosen during elections held between 30 April and 4 May. In Dili itself on Monday, Timorese officials estimated that about 5,000 people were joined by armed mountain tribesmen in street dancing to celebrate the Assembly's vote for integration with Indonesia. Members of the capital's Chinese community joined in with traditional dragon dances.
Indonesian soldiers kept a low profile in the background during the activities. However, the Indonesian influence was clearly apparent elsewhere in the capital -- Indonesian policemen were directing traffic and some children were wearing Indonesian scout uniforms. In the Assembly Hall itself, beneath a hug sign urging unity with Indonesia, all the speaker supported the petition to hasten integration.
SYNOPSIS: East Timor where only s handful of foreign diplomats were on hand on Monday to observe a petition from the territory's Popular Assembly for total integration with Indonesia. The diplomatic boycott was led by Australia who insisted on some form of United Nations participation in East Timor.
Although some Indonesian soldiers were present in Dili, they kept a low profile.
However, Indonesian policemen were on traffic duty to control the large crowds, estimated at 5,000.
According to reports from Sydney East Timor will send a delegating to Djakarta within 10 days to convey the Assembly's integration request.
According to the reports, the Indonesian authorities are certain to approve the request -- Reuters quoting East Timorese officials in Djakarta have declared that East Timor will become Indonesia's 27th province. Formal integration would follow within three months. However, Indonesia still faces strong international criticism over East Timor, and the Indonesians have accused Australia of leading a diplomatic campaign against Djakarta. Australia's relations with Indonesia have been strained by Indonesian intervention in East Timor.