U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan postponed a crucial vote on the future status of East Timor today for a second time because of security and logistical problems, a U.N. spokesman said.
"The secretary general, after consultation with Indonesia and Portugal, has proposed a change to Aug. 30," U.N. spokesman Manoel de Almeida e Silva said.
The United Nations is responsible for organizing a ballot that was scheduled for Aug. 8, then postponed to Aug. 21-22. An estimated 400,000 voters, about half the population, are to choose between independence and wide-ranging autonomy within Indonesia.
Almeida e Silva said the tight schedule for registering voters, publishing voter lists and allowing for appeals necessitated the postponement of the East Timor ballot date.
He noted that security concerns, including attacks on U.N. headquarters by anti-independence militia, had delayed voter registration by several days. Annan also is concerned about the voting rights of thousands of refugees driven from their homes by anti-independence militiamen.
Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and annexed it a year later, an action not recognized by other countries or the United Nations.
Violence has escalated since Indonesian President B.J. Habibie said in January that he would let East Timor go if voters rejected autonomy, changing decades of policies.
In Manila, exiled Timorese independence leader Jose Ramos-Horta said the delay was a slap in the face for Jakarta.
In Paris, meanwhile, Indonesia won a promise of $5.9 billion in foreign aid and a solid show of support for the government's economic and political reforms.
"There's a need to proceed. There should be no interruption in donor support," World Bank Managing Director Sven Sandstrom told a news conference after two days of talks with a team lead by top economics minister Ginandjar Kartasamita.