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East Timor's Voters to Elect Constituent Assembly - 2001-08-30

In East Timor, voters are turning out early, Thursday, and in large numbers to elect a constituent assembly as part of the territory's transition to independence. So far the process has been peaceful despite fears of violence and voter intimidation.

Since early morning it has been evident that voter turnout in this election in going to be high. People have been waiting patiently in line since daybreak to cast their ballots in what local leaders are calling the first free vote in free East Timor.

More than 400,000 eligible voters are electing an 88-member assembly that will draft the constitution and likely become the first parliament.

Security forces, both local and international, are deployed throughout the territory to ensure the polling goes without incident.

The head of the U.N. transitional authority here has pledged to form an all-Timorese transitional cabinet when the election results are announced in about one week.