Subject: East Timorese Group Calls For Election Postponement

Associated Press March 12, 2001

East Timorese Group Calls For Election Postponement

DILI, East Timor (AP)--East Timor needs more time to prepare for its first free elections because the majority of voters don't understand the complicated electoral system, a local non-governmental group said Monday.

"What we need is time to allow the feeling to develop that this is our election," said Jose Luis Oliveira, head of the Working Group on Electoral Education.

The additional time is needed because the population has no previous experience of democracy and political parties haven't had enough time to develop properly, Oliveira said.

East Timor has been administered by the U.N. since it voted to break away from Indonesia in August 1999. Although the final timetable for the territory's first elections hasn't been set, it is widely expected that balloting for a constituent assembly will be held on Aug. 30.

The new assembly will then have three months to write the national constitution. The U.N. administration is expected to leave East Timor in 2001 after the constitution has been finalized

According to Oliveira, most people feel that the election rules were being set by world body officials without sufficient local participation.

"With this election we are building the foundations of our state and those foundations need to be solid," he said, adding that the situation could be remedied through wider East Timorese participation in the transition to democracy.

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