Subject: LUSA: Parties Agree on Text of National Unity Pact

04 Jul 01 19:35 East Timor: Parties Agree on Text of National Unity Pact

The 16 East Timorese political parties registered for August elections agreed Wednesday on the text of a historic National Unity Pact, with 15 guaranteeing they would sign it on Friday.

Final details of the pact were worked out during more than six hours of negotiations at the Government Palace in Dili.

The chief UN transition administrator in East Timor, Sergio Vieira de Mello, will be a witness to the pact's signature, along with the territory's two Catholic bishops, Carlos Ximenes Belo and Basilio de Nascimento, its foreign minister, Jose Ramos Horta, and the president of the Dili court.

The territory's now extinct umbrella leadership organization, the CNRT, oversaw the original negotiations for the pact, which was in the end elaborated by the political parties, with the United Nations playing the role of facilitator.

The pact will take effect the date it is signed by leaders of the parties and remain valid until promulgation of a national constitution.

On Aug. 30, East Timorese voters will elect members of a constituent assembly whose task will be to draw up the future national constitution.

Alone of the 16 parties registered for the August ballot, the Timorese Nationalist Party (PNT) decided Wednesday to reserve a final decision on the pact for 24 hours. Observers nevertheless remain confident that all 16 parties will initial the pact.

The 14-point document dropped a draft proposal that had declared support for Xanana Gusmao, leader of the territory's independence struggle, as a candidate to be the first president of East Timor.

Gusmao has repeatedly stated that he does not intend to run for the presidency.

The final text approved Wednesday is based on principles expressing support for national unity, with emphasis on the need to "establish and uphold an atmosphere of peace and stability" and "ensure a climate of mutual respect and confidence".

Another section of the text indicates that national unity should always be defended "within a framework of multi-party democracy", based on the principles of non-violence, dialogue and the "culture of tolerance".

It also stipulates "unconditional" respect for results of both the 1999 independence plebiscite and the upcoming August elections.

Both Gusmao and Ramos Horta made appearances during the final Wednesday round of negotiations, reiterating the need to approve the pact as a means to ensure stability during the election period.

Brazilian UNTAET official Luciana Mancini, who serves as liaison with the parties, highlighted after the meeting that the pact had been prepared only by the parties.

"All the political parties demonstrated a willingness to reach a consensus position", Mancini told Lusa.

JBC -Lusa-

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