DAILY CATHOLIC    MONDAY     September 6, 1999     vol. 10, no. 168

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

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EAST TIMOR VOTES OVERWHELMINGLY FOR INDEPENDENCE

        ROME, 4 (NE) After 24 years of being invaded and illegally annexed to Indonesia, East Timor voted overwhelmingly for independence. Almost 80% of votes registered during the referendum held August 30 went in favor of independence, in spite of the numerous threats and possible acts of violence announced by anti-independence factions

        The results were made known yesterday by the UN's General Secretary, Kofi Annan, and by the chief of the UN mission in Timor East, in Dili. Results showed that 344,580 persons voted for independence (78.5%), while 94,388 voted for autonomy within Indonesia (21.5%).

        A Portuguese colony since 1642, this mainly Catholic island obtained independence in 1975, only to be invaded a few days after by neighboring Indonesia. Since then, East Timor has been subjected to a hard and constant repression. Only in the first 11 years of occupation, approximately 200,000 of a population of about 800,000 died.

        The fall of General Suharto and the election of Habibie -who announced the referendum in January this year- raised new hopes for the population, who finally voted massively in favor of independence. However, in spite of the voting, the reaction of anti-independence forces linked to the Indonesian army is still feared by the population.


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September 6, 1999       volume 10, no. 168
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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