Subject: Fretilin Wins E Timor 1st Election With 57% Of Vote -UN

Associated Press September 5, 2001

Fretilin Wins E Timor 1st Election With 57% Of Vote -UN

DILI, East Timor (AP)--The Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor has captured the majority of seats in the fledgling nation's legislature, but with a slimmer margin than party leaders had anticipated, electoral officials from the United Nations said Thursday.

The party - widely known as Fretilin - secured 55 of the 88 seats in the assembly, said Carlos Valenzuela, the chief electoral officer of the U.N. Independent Electoral Commission.

The assembly will write East Timor's first constitution and steer the territory to full independence next year. Upon independence, the assembly will form the country's first legislature.

With the ballot results, Fretilin now has a clear mandate to form the new government, though it falls short of the 60 seats it needs to pass its draft constitution without support from other parties.

Trailing Fretilin was the Democratic Party with seven seats and the Social Democratic Party with six seats. The Democratic Party captured 8.72% of the vote, while the Social Democratic Party had 8.18%.

Last week's election 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 United Nations 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. Leaders of the party had predicted that they would win about 85% of the votes cast.

The Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor - widely known as Fretilin - secured 55 seats in an 88-member assembly that will write East Timor's first constitution and steer the territory to full independence next year, said Carlos Valenzuela, the chief U.N. electoral officer.

"Emotionally it was a very touching election, as it heals the wounds of 1999 and the effects of the popular consultation. This makes the election a historic success," he said.

He was referring to the campaign of murder, looting and destruction launched by Indonesian forces and their militia proxies after the results of a U.N.-sponsored referendum on Aug. 30, 1999, were announced. In the referendum, four-fifths of the electorate voted to secede from Indonesia, which had ruled East Timor since invading the former Portuguese colony in 1975.

"The result reflects the will of the people and everybody is happy. I think it is a good signal that peace is going to be consolidated," said Fretilin leader Mari Alkateri.


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