Subject: UN: Timor schedules first democratic elections for 30 August

UN Department of Public Information (DPI) Date: 16 Mar 2001

East Timor schedules first democratic elections for 30 August

The first democratic vote in East Timor will be held on 30 August 2001 to elect the 88-member Constituent Assembly that will draft a constitution, the head of the United Nations Transitional Administration there announced today.

Sergio Vieira de Mello made the announcement after signing in Dili the regulation on the "Election of a Constituent Assembly to Prepare a Constitution for an Independent and Democratic East Timor," which had been approved by the National Council on 13 March.

"This electoral law and its provisions for the participation of political parties are surely the most open and democratic in the world," Mr. Vieira de Mello said.

National Council President Xanana Gusmão witnessed the signing ceremony, which was attended by members of the Transitional Cabinet, the National Council, Bishop of Baucau Basílio do Nascimento and diplomats. "This is an historic moment," Mr. Gusmão said. "I can state here, as a simple East Timorese citizen, that all political leaders and the whole East Timor are fully committed to this process and are well aware of the difficulties we face."

In view of the rejection by the National Council of the proposed quotas for women, Mr. Vieira de Mello today added a paragraph to the preamble encouraging "the equal participation of women and men at all stages of the electoral and constitutional process, and undertaking to promote the full enjoyment by women of their civil and political rights."

The head of the UN mission, known by its acronym UNTAET, also announced that he would make broadcast time available equally to male and female candidates; would encourage political parties to have at least 30 per cent of their lists of candidates made up of women; and would direct the mission's Gender Affairs Unit to identify 100 potential female candidates for election to the Constituent Assembly and to organize a special training for them.

According to UNTAET, East Timor will elect an 88-member Constituent Assembly made up of one representative elected by each district on a majority basis and 75 members elected on a proportional basis. The elected assembly will prepare and adopt a constitution of an independent and democratic East Timor in a period of 90 days.

UNTAET also announced the establishment today of an Independent Electoral Commission, which will have exclusive electoral authority. It is composed of a Chief Electoral Officer and five voting Commissioners -- two East Timorese and three internationally recognized experts -- to be appointed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

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