Subject: East Timor: 24 Women in 88-Seat Constituent Assembly

06 Sep 01 17:53 East Timor: 24 Women in 88-Seat Constituent Assembly

Results of last week's elections in East Timor indicate that the territory's new 88-seat Constituent Assembly will have a total of 24 women members.

The full breakdown on female representatives gives the Fretilin party 17, the PSD three, the ASDT one and the PST and PNT one apiece. The party with the lowest female representation is the second- placed PD, which elected no women candidates.

The results of the August 30 election were announced earlier Thursday in Dili, with Fretilin winning 55 seats in the assembly, followed by the PD (Democratic Party) with seven and the PSD (Social Democratic Party) and ASDT (Timorese Social Democratic Association) with six each. Remaining seats were split among eight minor parties and one independent candidate.

The participation of a significant number of women in the elections is taken to be a positive sign by some of the main women's rights organizations in East Timor.

During the electoral campaign some of these organizations said they had collected more than 10,000 signatures for the first petition to be presented to the Constituent Assembly. The petition's organizers hope that a women's rights charter can be incorporated into the future constitution.

Many East Timorese women's rights activists are critical of traditional dowry systems in the territory which, the petition claims, reinforce a patriarchal society system.

CJB -Lusa-

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