Note No 147
23 August 2001



UNIC LONDON, 22 August -- One week from today, on August 30th 2001, the people of East Timor will go to the polls to vote in their first free elections. Journalists from all over the world are converging on the capital, Dili, to cover this historic event.

According to the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative and Transitional Administrator, Sergio Vieira de Mello, the elections for a Constituent Assembly "will serve as the founding act of the independent and democratic nation of East Timor".

The Constituent Assembly is expected to be sworn-in on 15 September and will have 90 days to draft and adopt a Constitution. The Assembly will determine what type of political system East Timor will adopt and may transform itself to become the parliament of the world’s newest country. What may follow is a presidential election, expected early next year, and independence leader Xanana Gusmao – East Timor’s Nelson Mandela – is currently the most popular candidate for the presidency.

The East Timorese have come a long way since the tragic events of 1999. With the help of the UN and the international community they are gradually rebuilding their lives and their country.

For further information please contact:

In Dili, East Timor:

Barbara Reis – UNTAET Spokesperson
Phone: – 61-8-8946-3900 (ext. 6267)
Cellular – 61-407-398-430

Captain Jeff Squire - UNTAET Peacekeeping Forces Spokesman
Phone: -61 418 823 096



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