|Subject: Lusa: UN Chief announces
preventative steps on rumors
East Timor: UN Chief Announces Preventive Steps on Rumored Election Violence
Declaring security during East Timor´s upcoming election campaign his "number one priority", UN administrator Sergio Vieira de Mello Thursday announced a series of preventive measures in the face of rumored violence.
"We will take all necessary measures to avoid that individuals or small minority groups try to subvert law and order during the election campaign, attempting to frustrate the aspirations of the vast majority of the population", Vieira de Mello told the transitional legislature in Dili.
Campaigning begins Sunday for the territory´s Aug. 30 constituent assembly elections, a milestone in the transition to independence.
Among the precautions, Vieira de Mello announced that unarmed elements of East Timor´s fledgling defense force would join UN peacekeepers in security operations and a joint commission had been set up to verify rumors of planned violence in the most "vulnerable" zones.
The joint commission, involving representatives of the East Timorese military and police, UN administration and UN peacekeeping forces, was expected to report by the end of the week, Vieira de Mello said.
"They will carry out their investigations and I hope to have their recommendations by the end of the week", he added. "If we have to act, we will act".
The Brazilian diplomat said there was "information" that provocateur groups were organizing in the areas of Baucau, Viqueque and Same.
"It can just be rumor but it could be true, and we are going to investigate".
Vieira de Mello said that one source of possible concern was contained in a letter he had received from a leader of the radical CPD-RDTL group, urging Dili´s population of about 140,000 "to flee to the mountains...because there will be a bloodbath" among the 16 parties contesting the elections.
Vieira de Mello warned the transition legislature, or National Council, that election violence would jeopardize the possibility of attracting foreign investment to East Timor.
In comments to Lusa, the defense force chief, Brigadier General Taur Matan Ruak, downplayed the significance of the rumors, saying the East Timorese had a "habit" of such speculation.
While attributing primary responsibility for security to the UN administration and peacekeepers, the general said his few hundred men would "participate at the request of the people".
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