Subject: LUSA: UDT party congress looks for 'effective' opposition strategies

06-06-2003 13:41:00. Notícia nº SIR-5106027

East Timor: UDT party congress looks for 'effective' opposition strategies

Dili, June 6 (Lusa) - The Timorese Democratic Union (UDT) opened a party congress Friday, with leader João Carrascalão saying he wanted to make East Timor's oldest political force an "effective" opposition to Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri's government.

The three-day congress in Dili, which organizers said would draw "hundreds" of delegates from all the country's 13 districts, aims to reorganize and broaden its leadership structures, and reorient its strategy towards youth and the interior.

"We want to prepare the UDT for an effective, intelligent and constructive opposition", Carrascalão told Lusa, adding it should challenge Alkatiri's Fretilin government with "alternatives", not "criticism for criticism's sake".

He said he did not want stand again for the presidency of the party he founded, preferring to make room for "a younger, more dynamic" leader.

Founded in 1974, the UDT only managed to two elect two MPs to the 88-seat parliament in the country's first elections in 2001.

The surprising electoral defeat followed the loss of many of its most promising young leaders, who abandoned the UDT in 2000 for the newly formed Social Democratic Party, led by Carrascalão's brother, Mário, a former governor under Indonesia's occupation.

In another development, East Timor's spiritual leader, Catholic Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo urged the country's political leaders to bury differences for "the good of the people".

"They were all elected by the people, their obligation is to polish their differences and work for the good of the people", the Nobel Peace laureate said, urging political "understanding", in a speech Thursday in the northern Portuguese city of Oporto.


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