Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo has welcomed the UN-mediated agreement reached by Indonesia and Portugal on broad-based autonomy for East Timor.
    "We support whatever comes out from the tripartite agreement, especially regarding consultation of the people Aug. 8 on special autonomy," Bishop Belo, apostolic administrator of Dili, told UCA News last week.
    On Tuesday at the UN headquarters in New York, the Indonesian and Portuguese foreign ministers signed the agreement on the plan to decide the troubled territory's future. They were hosted by UN Secretary General Koffi Anan.
    President Bacharuddin Jusuf Habibie has set Aug. 8 as the date for East Timor people to vote whether to remain part of Indonesia with special autonomy or to become an independent state.
    Bishop Belo said he will study the autonomy schemes before visiting parishes to explain them to the people in preparation for the direct balloting.
    Noting that the three-month period is long enough to make public the autonomy schemes, the 1996 Nobel laureate urged all parties to avoid violence in order to create an atmosphere conducive to free and fair balloting.

10:50am 10/5/99 / UCA News


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