Subject: ABC interview: Fretilin expects to win more than 60 seats

Australian Broadcasting Corporation August 27, 2001 -transcript-

EAST TIMOR: Fretilin expects to win more than 60 seats

Fretilin will win more than two-thirds of seats in East Timor's 71-seat parliament, according to Mari Alkatiri, the party's secretary-general and the man most likely to be East Timor's prime minister. Fretilin's distinctive flag is plastered over taxis, shops and houses throughout East Timor and while it appears to have lost some support to two newer parties, is widely expected to dominate this week's election. Will this expected level of dominance backfire.

Presenter/Interviewer: Tricia Fitzgerald

Speakers: Mari Alkatiri, Sec-Gen, Fretilin.

ALKATIRI: "If the fight against nepotism is considered to be oppressive, then yes, you can consider us to be oppressive. if the fight against violence, against everything, against the law here in East Timor is being oppressive, yes, you can consider us oppressive. our objective, our aim is to clean the country of corruption from nepotism from violence to consolidate peace, stability.

"But people start thinking we are Indonesian; that we are the Indonesian army. But we fought for 24 years against the Indonesian army. We are not, we are the last group that could have the same appraoch as the indonesian army. That's the thing. This is propaganda."

FITZGERALD: It has been said that the party's not very democratic, internally, and this has fuelled some of the fears about how you'll govern. Do you have representation from the grass roots...

ALKATIRI: "The one single party that's democratic here is Fretilin. We restructured our whole party from the bottom to the top with democratic elections. Never has another party had a congress here. We did everything democratically, Fretilin."

FITZGERALD: It been said that Fretilin has lost some well-known faces to splinter groups, such as the Democratic Party, the PSD, what sort of shape is your party in at the moment in terms of leadership as you come into this election?

ALKATIRI: "PD, yes, these younger people during the last 15-20 years, depending on their age were struggling under the Fretilin flag. They decided to create their own party in a democratic system, but they've never been Fretilin leaders. The well-known figures, we haven't lost a single one. They tried to get some, but they didn't succeed."

FITZGERALD: How do you think you're going to do in this election? Do you think you're going to get an absolute majority?

ALKATIRI: "Not only an absolute majority. An absolute majority is 51% but we think we'll have much more than 60 seats, a number enough to take all kinds of decisions. Much (more) than 60 seats. But for sure, we are not going to impose our models, we are not going to because this is a situation that's going to be in place for years and years and we don't want to impose our models."

FITZGERALD: So the fears that you'll dominate the government you don't feel are justified?

ALKATIRI: "On the governemnt - we've made it very clear we would like to have an inclusive government. Not only a Fretilin government."

FITZGERALD: You have a reputation as a socialist. Is that a perception?

ALKATIRI: "I always refuse to be labelled. What I can assure you is that my main pre-occupation is people. How to help them, how to develop the country to such a level that they can have what they need. I am not against the rich people but I am really against poverty."

FITZGERALD: What will that mean in terms of the types of decisions you'll make if you do come to govern the country?

ALKATIRI: "My priority in East Timor is how to accommodate the majority. Their concerns, their pre-occupations, their needs. The investments are very important for East Timor, for any investment will be important for East Timor, private or public investment.

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