Subject: LUSA: Sixteen Parties Registered by Deadline for First Elections

25 Jun 01 14:50 East Timor: Sixteen Parties Registered by Deadline for First Elections

Sixteen political parties, the majority organized in recent months, have registered to run in East Timor's August 30 constituent assembly elections, the UN-administered territory's first ever free ballot, officials said Monday.

Members of the Independent Electoral Commission (CEI) in Dili told Lusa that 16 parties, including the territory's three historic forces, and six independent candidates had registered by the Sunday deadline.

Since the registration process began May 7, 13 of the parties have received CEI certification, while the process continues for three others.

When campaigning officially begins July 15, the parties will compete for the support of an electorate of more than 400,000 voters, in the contest for 75 national seats and 13 individual district seats in the future 88-member constituent assembly.

The assembly which issues form [from] the Aug. 30 balloting will draft a constitution for an independent East Timor.

The territory is expected to obtain full sovereignty sometime next year, after centuries of Portuguese colonial rule, 24 years of Indonesian occupation, and an UN transition administration which followed the Aug. 30, 1999 independence plebiscite.

While most of the parties are post-plebiscite creations, many arising in the last few months, they include East Timor's three historic forces - Fretilin, UDT and APODETI, which has now added Pro- Referendum to its name.

Fretilin always defended independence: it unilaterally declared an independent state from Portugal in 1975, a move that triggered a brief but savage civil war, which Indonesia used as a pretext to invade and annex the territory.

In 1975, the UDT argued for continued links to Portugal and a gradual approach to independence. It later joined Fretilin in battling Indonesian occupation forces.

APODETI, the last party to register Sunday, proposed integration with Indonesia, a position it continued to defend during the plebiscite two years ago.

SAS -Lusa-

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