Subject: CONG: Recent Elections in ET - Sen. Feingold

RECENT ELECTIONS IN EAST TIMOR -- (Senate - September 10, 2001)

[Page: S9248] GPO's PDF

Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, I rise today to congratulate the people of East Timor on the success of their recent Constituent Assembly elections.

On August 30, 2001, the people of East Timor voted to elect a new Constituent Assembly. That Assembly will begin meeting almost immediately to adopt a new constitution and to establish the framework for future elections and a transition to full independence next year. The vote was conducted on the second anniversary of the violent 1999 independence referendum. In that earlier referendum, nearly 98 percent of eligible voters risked their lives to vote for independence from Indonesia. Last week, the people of East Timor demonstrated their continuing commitment to democracy by turning out again in force to elect the women and men who will lead them now to full democracy and independence. Final voter turnout in this recent election was reported at more than 91 percent, in a territory-wide poll that was both peaceful and orderly.

After 25 years of occupation by Indonesia, and a much longer period of colonization by Portugal, many ordinary men and women walked for hours and lined up before dawn to vote for the first time for their own political leaders. Clearly, many difficult decisions and fractious debates now lie ahead for the 24 women and 64 men who have been entrusted by their election to the Constituent Assembly to establish a sound legal framework for independent governance. It is my fervent hope that the same spirit of civic participation and tolerance that guided this most recent election will continue to guide the elected representatives of the Constituent Assembly as they establish a new democratic system to promote the cause of peace, independence, and prosperity in East Timor .

The United Nations must also be credited for organizing a successful election and establishing a firm foundation for future independent governance. As U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan has noted, it is in many respects the conviction with which the people of East Timor have embraced democracy that continues to strengthen the commitment of the world community to their cause. I commend the United Nations Administration in East Timor , UNTEAT, for their dedication in implementing this important mission and for their success in organizing this recent election.

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