Subject: LUSA: Assembly VP Amaral Registers as First Presidential Candidate Candidate

05 Feb 02 12:32 East Timor: Assembly VP Amaral Registers as First Presidential Candidate

Francisco Xavier do Amaral, the vice-president of East Timor´s Constitutent Assembly, has registered formally as the first candidate in the territory´s April 14 presidential election, electoral officials said Tuesday.

Amaral, backed by the extra-parliamentray PARENTIL party, formalized his candidacy in Dili Monday, the first day of the 19-day registration period, officials said.

Local analysts said Amaral´s initiative brought a sense of relief to election organizers who had worried that veteran independence leader Xanana Gusmao, a virtual shoe in, would be the only candidate.

Bowing to domestic and international pressure, Gusmao announced last year he would stand for the presidency, but has yet to formalize his bid.

Leader of the ASDT party with six assembly seats, Amaral served as president of the short-lived "democratic republic" proclaimed by Fretilin in 1975, on the eve of Indonesia's invasion of East Timor.

After the invasion, Amaral was expelled from Fretilin, today East Timor´s dominant political force.

It was not immediately clear why Amaral´s candidacy was promoted by the tiny PARENTIL party rather than by his own party, the Timorese Social Democrat Association (ASDT).

SAS/ASP -Lusa-

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