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East Timor Assembly sets first presidential elections for early April

In a statement issued in Dili, the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) said that the motion approved today by the Constituent Assembly recommends that the voting process be “universal, direct, and secret.”The recommendations were approved by 68 of the 88 Assembly members, with 9 abstentions and 2 votes against. The Independent Electoral Commission’s Chief Electoral Officer, Carlos Valenzuela, addressed the session before today’s vote to outline the modalities needed for organizing the election within a short timeframe. The modalities include the criteria for the registration of political parties and voter participation, and the type of electoral system – simple or absolute majority – to be employed.Mr. Valenzuela said the Assembly would need to determine these and other issues no later than 15 January in order for the Independent Electoral Commission to have sufficient time to organize the process. He recommended that a simple majority system be employed to avoid a potential second round run-off that would likely coincide with East Timor’s 20 May independence.In another development, the latest report by UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan on UNTAET says the UN operation’s budget from July 2001 to 30 June 2002 will amount to $490 million. read more

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