Subject: E. Timor bishop calls for calm political process

E. Timor bishop calls for calm political process

FATIMA, Portugal, May 20 (Reuters) - Nobel Peace Prize winner Bishop Ximenes Belo on Sunday urged political groups in East Timor to settle their differences peacefully as the Asian territory prepares for full independence.

Ximenes Belo described the political situation in the former Portuguese colony, currently under transitional administration by the United Nations, as "somewhat troubled."

"The violence in 1999 was enough and we have to live in a climate of democracy, albeit with different ideas and political views, and we have to accept each other," the Bishop said at the Fatima shrine in Portugal, in comments broadcast by local media.

In 1999, pro-Indonesian militias spread a wave of killing and destruction in East Timor after people voted overwhelmingly to end 24 years of often brutal rule from Jakarta in a U.N.-sponsored referendum.

Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusmao recently resigned as president of the territory's interim parliament in protest at what he said was political chaos.

Ximenes Belo, who was on a pilgrimage to Fatima, one of Roman Catholicism's most revered sites, thought that in East Timor: "There are parties with a certain radicalism."

He also noted two conflicting political currents in the territory, which was annexed by Indonesia in 1975 in the aftermath of a revolution in former colonial power Portugal. It was a move never recognised by the United Nations.

"We have a certain contrast: some say they do not want democracy, because they already have the bitter experience of a civil war in 1974 and 1975," Ximenes Belo said.

"But on the other hand we are on our way towards a pluralistic society," he added.

East Timor is due to elect a constituent assembly in August, which will then have 90 days to draft a constitution, in line with a target of achieving full independence by the end of this year, although U.N. peacekeepers are expected to stay on. [This message was distributed via the east-timor news list.]

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