Subject: E.Timor's Leading Rights Group Concerned Over Fretilin Majority

Associated Press September 5, 2001

Rights Group Concerned Over Fretilin Majority In E Timor

DILI, East Timor (AP)--As East Timor's largest political party appeared set to win a comfortable majority in the legislature that will adopt the new constitution, democracy activists expressed concern Wednesday that it would ignore other groups in drafting the national charter.

The Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor - Fretilin - has taken a commanding lead in the Aug. 30 election for an 88-member assembly which will decide the country's first constitution.

With results in from 12 of East Timor's 13 electoral districts, Fretilin has won 11 district seats and about 50% of the national vote. Final results are expected to be announced Thursday.

But East Timor's leading human rights organization, Yayasan Hak, said a large Fretilin majority in the assembly could mean that smaller parties are unlikely to participate in drafting the constitution.

"Fretilin has already prepared a draft constitution. If they have the majority of seats, they could adopt this without consultation," said Yayasan Hak spokesman Joaquim Fonseca.

"Any party that gains a majority must consult with the people and other political groups," he said.

Last week's election for the body that will write the new constitution was a key step in preparing East Timor for independence after centuries of Portuguese colonial rule, 24 years of Indonesian occupation, and two years of transitional U.N. government.

The U.N. will gradually turn over the running of the government to the new authorities over the next six to eight months.

Fretilin, which was established in 1974, played a key role in East Timor's struggle for independence from Indonesia.

Party secretary general, Mari Alkatiri, has pledged to include political leaders from other parties in his government, but hasn't elaborated on this strategy.

Sixteen political parties took part in the election, which was declared free and fair by international observers and the U.N.


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