|Subject: DemNow!: East Timor Votes
East Timor Election on Democracy NOW!
click here to hear entire show (note E Timor segment is in second half of the show: http://www.radio4all.net/proginfo.php?id=3581
Story: TWO YEARS AFTER THE PEOPLE OF EAST TIMOR VOTED OVERWHELMINGLY FOR THEIR INDEPENDENCE, THEY HOLD THEIR FIRST ELECTIONS TO CHOOSE A CONSTITUTIONAL ASSEMBLY
The people of East Timor went to the polls today in overwhelming numbers in their first nationwide elections to choose an assembly that will write the constitution for the world's newest nation.
Two years ago the East Timorese voted in an historic U.N. supervised referendum for their independence after 24 years of brutal Indonesian occupation.
As soon as the results of the vote were announced, however, Indonesian troops and their militia allies burnt East Timor to the ground, displaced virtually the entire population, and forced hundreds of thousands of people from the country. Tens of thousands remain in squalid refugee camps in West Timor.
Voters in the elections today will choose from 16 parties for an 88 member assembly that will write the country's constitution in a just three months. East Timor will become independent sometime next year. The Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor, or Fretelin, is expected to dominate the balloting.
But East Timor is still far from being a truly independent country. 9,000 UN troops continue to occupy the territory. East Timor will celebrate its independence almost wholly dependent upon foreign aid. International agencies such as the World Bank and IMF are creating East Timor's infrastructure almost from scratch, while foreigners already dominate the local economy, which caters to the army of well-paid UN workers and international aid staff who fill the grocery stores and the restaurants priced out of the reach of most East Timorese.
And more than two years after they destroyed East Timor and murdered hundreds, not a single Indonesian general has been brought to justice.
But after 400 years of Portuguese colonialism and Indonesian occupation, the people of East Timor are on their way to having their own country, poor but proud and free.
Jose Ramos Horta, 1996 Nobel Peace Prize Winner and Foreign Minister for East Timor
Joaquim Fonseca, with the East Timorese human rights group Yayasan Hak. He is an official observer of the election process, and has been an active part of the NGO working group on the constitution.
John Miller, Media and Outreach Coordinator for the East Timor Action Network, a grassroots organization working to support genuine self-determination for East Timor.
For information about Democracy Now! and its treatment by the Pacifica Network see http://www.etan.org/news/2001a/goodman.htm.
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