Subject: LUSA: Election Campaigning Kicks Off in Lackluster Fashion

16 Jul 01 12:24 East Timor: Election Campaigning Kicks Off in Lackluster Fashion

East Timorese political activists crowded the UN transition administration's election support center in Dili Monday to ready campaign materials, after a slow start to campaigning Sunday for the territory's Aug. 30 constituent assembly balloting.

Representatives of many of the 16 competing parties gathered at the Support Center for Political Parties to decide on campaign materials, many asking if they were entitled to order T-shirts and stickers.

The center, set up and financed by the UNTAET administration and the UN Development program, provides the services of two graphic artists and access to transportation, telecommunications and computers.

Campaigning for the election, a milestone in the transition to independence, expected sometime next year, kicked off Sunday in a lackluster fashion, with only one party staging a festive rally in Dili and a second holding a news conference to announce its platform.

The historic party of independence, Fretilin, drew about 5,000 people to a football-field rally, where music and dancing followed a minute of silence for comrades fallen in the 24-year struggle against Indonesian occupation.

"Our new commitment, the only promise we now make is to restore independence to free the people", Mari Alkatiri, secretary-general of the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor, told the crowd, pledging to do everything to observe a National Unity Pact signed by 14 of the 16 parties.

In the second political event Sunday, the Timorese Democratic Union (UDT), another historic party, held a news conference to announce its five major campaign concerns.

Party leader Joao Carrascalao said the UDT would "combat" poverty, ignorance, corruption, injustice and political lies.

So long as these problems were not "adequately" dealt with, East Timor would always be "vulnerable to hate, enmity, disintegration and mutual suspicions", Carrascalao warned.

SAS -Lusa-

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