East Timor - 1999 - Popular Consultation
Jeff Fischer served as Chief Electoral Officer for the United Nations Assistance Mission in East Timor and oversaw the conduct of the voting.
The 1999 Popular Consultation in East Timor was a non-binding referendum on Timorese independence from Indonesia. Under a May 5, 1999 agreement signed by the United Nations and the governments of Indonesia and Portugal, East Timorese would have the opportunity to cast ballots accepting or rejecting a special autonomy arrangement but remaining under the Indonesian national government. However, a rejection of the autonomy would be tantamount to a vote for independence which would be granted by the Indonesian parliament. Throughout the campaign, independence supporters were subject to attack by Indonesian loyalists and militia followed by a wave of post-election violence resulting in an estimated 900 dead and 400,000 displaced. The Timorese people emphatically supported independence with 78.5 percent voting in favor of independence.
In the recording above, you can hear Jeff himself speak about his experience of observing the election for the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs (NDI).