Subject: LUSA: Voters Prepared for Peaceful Election - Observers

17 Aug 01 19:52 East Timor: Voters Prepared for Peaceful Election - Observers

The people of East Timor are adequately prepared for the August 30 elections, which are likely to take place without major problems, members of the US-based Carter Center's observer team told Lusa on Friday.

Observers from the Carter Center have been present in East Timor since the campaign period began last month, benefitting from previous experience monitoring the territory's 1999 independence plebiscite.

Contacted by Lusa, they emphasized that the atmosphere was very positive, despite some complaints about fundraising irregularities and criticism leveled by rival parties.

Team coordinator Nancy Lutz explained that a final evaluation would only be made after the elections. Reports from the various districts of East Timor so far indicate "no major problems", with some parties criticizing each other, though in a "calm and peaceful" atmosphere.

"The border is secure and we do not have the threats that existed in 1999", said Lutz, who also monitored the independence plebiscite, which ended Indonesia's 24-year occupation of East Timor.

Contrary to earlier fears, the population seems well informed about the upcoming election. "Although the civic education program began late, the information reaching us indicates that the population is adequately prepared for the elections", Lutz said.

East Timorese voters will on August 30 elect the 88 members of an assembly whose main task will be to draw up the future national constitution.

JBC -Lusa-

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