Subject: AP: Election Likely To Take Place Aug 30 - Official

Tuesday February 27, 4:25 PM

E Timor Election Likely To Take Place Aug 30 - Official

DILI, East Timor (AP)--East Timor is likely to hold balloting for a constituent assembly Aug. 30 despite fears that voters won't be ready yet for their first election free of Indonesian rule, a prominent political said Tuesday.

Agio Pereira, chairman of East Timor's standing committee for political affairs, said recommendations for the country's new electoral law, including setting the voting day for Aug. 30, are likely to be offered by United Nations mission head Sergio Vieira de Mello.

"We are confident Sergio Vieira de Mello will approve their adoption into the electoral law," he said.

East Timor is currently under the administration of the U.N., which took over governance in October 1999 following 25 years of brutal colonial rule by Indonesia. Indonesian troops and their auxiliaries killed hundreds and destroyed much of the country after a U.N. sponsored vote on independence Aug. 30, 1999.

Last week East Timor's de facto parliament, the National Council, voted to accept recommendations about the election of an assembly that will draft a new constitution and guidelines for political campaigning.

De Mello is expected to announce March 9 whether the recommendations will be turned into electoral law.

According to the proposed timetable, campaigning for the 88 seats in the constituent assembly will begin July 15.

The election would take place Aug. 30, the anniversary of the independence vote. The assembly would then have three months to prepare a constitution for East Timor.

The new electoral law also will provide for the registration of political parties in East Timor.

Each party will need 500 signatures to register. There will be no ban on pro-Indonesian political parties although every party will have to sign a statement of intent to work towards an independent East Timor.

Political analysts expect 12-15 parties will vie for seats in the constituent assembly.

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