Subject: LUSA: Last of Three Ministers Steps Down to Take Part in Campaign

16 Jul 01 18:50 East Timor: Last of Three Ministers Steps Down to Take Part in Campaign

Joao Carrascalao formally stepped down Monday from his post as infrastructure minister of East Timor, in order to actively participate in campaigning for the August 30 constituent assembly elections as leader of the Timorese Democratic Union (UDT) party.

Carrascalao, who also tops the UDT's list for the ballot, thus follows the footsteps of two other members of the transition cabinet, Ana Pessoa (internal administration) and Mari Alkatiri (economy), who suspended functions to campaign on behalf of the Fretilin party.

Campaigning for the August elections, in which East Timorese voters will elect members of an assembly whose main duty will be to draw up the future national constitution, began on Sunday.

The decision of three of the five East Timorese cabinet members to step down aims primarily to ensure the impartiality and credibility of the election process.

The two other East Timorese ministers, Filomeno Jacob (social affairs) and Jose Ramos Horta (foreign affairs), have said they do not plan to campaign for any of the 16 political parties registered for the ballot.

Ovidio de Jesus Amaral, former director of the telecommunications department, has been appointed to replace Joao Carrascalao at the infrastructure post.

Monday also marked the formal dissolution of the ministry of political affairs and Timor Sea. It had been headed by Peter Galbraith of the United States, who left Dili on Monday after completing his tour of duty in the UN-run territory. His ministry has been replaced by three offices, one concerned with political affairs, one to support the constituent assembly and the third concerning the Timor Sea.

The transition cabinet now comprises eight por[t]folios. Three of them (finance, justice, and emergency and police services) are headed by international personnel, while the other five (economy, infrastructure, internal administration, social affairs and foreign affairs) are in the hands of East Timorese.

The territory's chief UN transition administrator, Sergio Vieira de Mello of Brazil, has confirmed that he plans to expand the cabinet to include more portfolios, all of them headed by East Timorese, after the August elections.

JBC -Lusa-

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