Subject: LUSA: Gusmao Concerned about Civil Registration and Civic Education

East Timor: Gusmao Concerned about Civil Registration and Civic Education 18 Apr-21:34

Xanana Gusmao told Lusa Wednesday he was concerned about problems affecting the processes of civil registration and civic education in East Timor, at a time when the territory's electorate appears to be relatively "unmotivated".

Among the most serious problems are "the lack of information", the distance separating some citizens from registration centers, which have yet to begin functioning on a mobile basis, and "delays" in the implementation of planned programs, Gusmao said.

The motivation problem was already evident at the congress last August of the CNRT (the East Timorese umbrella leadership body headed by Gusmao) and has since exacerbated, he added.

He specified that one problem was the form used to register voters, which asks whether they plan to vote in the upcoming Aug. 30 elections, the first consultation in the territory since the 1999 independence plebiscite.

"Maybe (the question) has influenced people at a time when they don't know parties exist, that parties will be candidates. People are still a bit confused" he said, adding that he would bring up the matter with East Timor's chief UN transition administrator, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

Regarding the stalled civic education program, Gusmao said CNRT personnel were ready to take part in a promotion campaign that has yet to be formally opened by the UN transition administration (UNTAET). "We will obtain information that's more clear, after which I'll try to meet with UNTAET to overcome technical problems", he added.

Despite the "serious" problems, Gusmao stressed that the political transition calendar calling for Constituent Assembly elections on Aug. 30 was still achievable. The Assembly will be charged with preparing East Timor's future national constitution.

"I believe we can stick to the calendar. What worries me is the civil registration. Civic education will be easier, as we know how to reach the people", he said.

Gusmao's concerns about the process were the main subject of a recent Dili meeting with a delegation of East Timorese 'liurais' (traditional chiefs). The 'liurais' told him that the East Timorese people were nowadays much less enthusiastic about the transition than they were before the 1999 independence vote, as registration and other aspects of the process were causing some "antagonism".

JBC -Lusa

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