Speaking during a US tour, East Timorese leader Jose Ramos Horta criticised the May 5 UN-sponsored agreement for a referendum on autonomy in East Timor. Horta said that allowing the Indonesian armed forces to be responsible for security during the planned August 8 ballot "would be like asking Milosevic to provide security for elections in Kosovo".
An ABC radio report also quoted East Timor-based vice-president of the National Council for Timorese Resistance (CNRT), Ximenes, as saying that "a vote for independence is impossible while the Indonesian military is responsible for security in East Timor". Ximenes said, "The Indonesian military must leave East Timor if a vote is to be fair". He said the Indonesian military has been killing people in East Timor for 23 years, and the killing will not stop as long as they are there.
CNRT President Xanana Gusmao, who is under house arrest in Jakarta, issued the following statement on May 6.
For 23 years, the people of East Timor have awaited this agreement which acknowledges their right to self-determination.
The agreement signed on May 5 in New York attests to the fact that the immeasurable sacrifices of the East Timorese people throughout this long period of oppression have not been in vain.
Realistically speaking, the value of the agreement as a historic document lies in the fact that it will permit the people of East Timor to exercise their legitimate right to decide on their future. For this very reason, the worth of the agreement in practical terms can only be verified through its implementation, in other words, when the United Nations ensures that the conditions for successful implementation exist.
I wish to draw attention to the fact that our people have long awaited this agreement, never ceasing to believe in the importance of its signing.
There is no doubt that there will be difficulties on the ground and that numerous obstacles will continue to be placed in the path of the preparation of a fair, democratic and transparent consultation.
All, however, will depend on the Indonesian government's compliance with the terms of the agreement relating to its responsibility for creating a climate of peace and tranquillity for the population.
While the agreement is no cause for euphoria, nor is it a guarantee of a resolution via democratic and peaceful processes, we must not view it with excessive pessimism, nor lose sight of the urgent need for a frank and serious dialogue capable of giving rise to new spirits and hopes.
I take this opportunity to express to UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, our profound appreciation for the on-going commitment he has demonstrated to the question of East Timor, which has made possible this first step in the direction of a new future for the East Timorese people. Our thanks also go to Ambassador Jamsheed Marker and his staff for their tireless dedication.
We express our sincere gratitude to the Portuguese government for its attentive and skilful handling of the question. To the Indonesian government, goes our appreciation for the commitment it has undertaken to guarantee the implementation of a democratic, transparent and fair consultation.