|East Timor||AUSTRALIAN BISHOPS QUESTION EAST TIMOR BALLOT|
Australia's Catholic bishops have expressed "grave doubts" about the planned 8 August ballot to determine East Timor's future.
Chairman of the Bishops' Committee for Justice, Development and Peace, Bishop William Brennan, has said that it is "hard to imagine how a free and fair act of self-determination by the East Timorese people could possible take place in two months time, given the present disturbing state of affairs in the territory".
A statement from the Committee says daily accounts in the media about continuing acts of violence and intimidation are being confirmed and augmented by other reports coming to the Bishops' Committee from its own sources.
"Unless the situation improves dramatically in the near future, which is most unlikely, many voters will be under serious duress," Bishop Brennan said. "The UN should postpone the ballot if there is any danger that it will not take place fairly and in a free atmosphere."
BCJDP 12:08pm 3/6/99