Subject: KY: Timor polls could be held Aug. 30 next year: UNTAET

Timor polls could be held Aug. 30 next year: UNTAET DILI, East Timor, Aug. 19 Kyodo

The first democratic election in East Timor could be held as early as Aug. 30 next year, the head of the U.N. Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) said Saturday.

Sergio Vieira de Mello, in an interview with a small group of reporters, said he hopes to see a new constitution -- either a draft or provisional one -- in place by April next year.

He noted that Aug. 30 -- the date of last year's historic U.N.-administered referendum in which East Timorese voted for independence from Indonesia -- is a symbolic date for East Timorese, 'so I would not be surprised if they ask for elections on the 30th of August next year.'

De Mello said East Timor would be ready for the polls by then. An electoral mission from the U.N. headquarters in New York already visited East Timor in July, and if preparations are started now, the polls could be held by then, he said.

De Mello also said UNTAET will launch next month broad consultations with East Timorese on what they want to see reflected in the constitution. By late September this year, regulations spelling out the registration process and guidelines for political parties can also be adopted.

De Mello said the early registration of political parties would give time for the administration 'to monitor these political parties, and provide themselves with time to learn the basic rules of democratic competition and to earn the confidence of the people of East Timor, offering ideas, offering platforms.'

'Their impatience is there. They are eager to fully exercise their political rights and I can't blame them. They have waited 500 years so why should they wait any longer,' he said.

East Timor is under UNTAET control as it moves toward full independence.

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