Subject: LUSA: Alkatiri Accuses Election Panel of 'Intellectual Dishonesty'

22 Aug 01 22:10 East Timor: Alkatiri Accuses Election Panel of 'Intellectual Dishonesty'

The number two in East Timor`s Fretilin party hierarchy, Mari Alkatiri, strongly critized Wednesday the territory`s Independent Eletoral Mediation Panel, which has complained about the movement`s campaign use of an expression deemed to be provocative. The three-member Panel, set up as a watchdog ahead of the August 30 Constituent Assembly elections, considers that Fretilin`s frequent use of the expression "dasa rai" (sweep the ground) in rallies is a "disturbing form of apparent verbal harassment" and thus violates the national unity pact signed by the parties before the campaign. Fretilin leaders have in rallies promised to clean the garbage from the territory`s streets. However, the Tetun (lingua franca of East Timor) words "dasa rai" were also used during the Indonesian occupation to refer to operations against the East Timorese resistance and more recently by anti-independence militias before the 1999 independence plebiscite. Alkatiri told Lusa Wednesday that the Panel was practicing "intellectual dishonesty", charging that it was attempting to use "alleged threats by Fretilin" to justify "the overwhelming defeat of the other parties" in the August 30 ballot. "All our speeches have called for peace and stability and clearly rejected violence. Why do they remove from our discourse an appeal we make to the people, for them to relax after the election campaign", he queried. Fretilin, which is widely favored to win the election, is currently a center-left, social democratic-style force that benefits from its long association with the independence cause and resistance to Indonesia`s quarter century occupation of East Timor, although some have voiced fears about its Marxist past. The Indonesian invasion in 1975 was triggered by Fretilin`s unilateral declaration of independence after the brief civil war that followed the withdrawal of Portuguese colonial authorities. East Timor has been governed by a UN transition administration since the 1999 plebiscite, with full independence expected next year. Voters in the territory 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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