Subject: SMH/E.Timor: People to have their say - but so will the UN

Sydney Morning Herald June 29, 2001

People to have their say - but so will the UN

By Mark Dodd, Herald Correspondent in Dili

The United Nations has told the people of East Timor they will be virtually self-governing from September 15 - but that the UN will decide who will form the government.

The head of the UN administration in the country, Mr Sergio Vieira de Mello, appealed yesterday to political parties to accept a government of national unity after elections on August 30 for a constituent assembly, or parliament.

He indicated he had the right to appoint such a government, although he added that the new Cabinet would "broadly reflect" the results of the elections.

He spelled out the next steps in East Timor's rocky road to independence in a speech to the appointed members of the national council, the de facto parliament.

The council will be dissolved on July 15 to pave the way for the elections. The results will be announced on September 10, and the newly elected constituent assembly will convene five days later.

"I believe strongly that the East Timorese should be as united as possible as they face the extraordinary challenges of independence," Mr Vieira de Mello said.

"Therefore I support the formation of a government of national unity based on the spirit of a pact of national unity that I am currently encouraging political parties to conclude.''

While East Timor would be virtually self-governing by September 15, he said, he would appoint the all-Timorese Cabinet.

"We will all respect the outcome of the August 30 election and the choices made by the Timorese people, and thus the Cabinet will broadly reflect the results of the ballot.

"But I will be urging the victorious party or parties to reach out to those who were less successful in the ballot."

The Cabinet would include most if not all of the parties elected to the assembly and could include other "eminent" but non-elected members.

Within 90 days, the 88-seat assembly will draft and adopt the first constitution for an independent East Timor.

Independence would be granted after the constitution was approved, and any further elections needed were held, Mr Vieira de Mello said.

He reminded national council members that until independence he would retain ultimate executive authority under a UN Security Council resolution.

"You won't be getting rid of me that easily," he joked, but no-one in the national council laughed.

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