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FRETILIN Wins Majority of East Timor Vote - 2001-09-06

In East Timor, the party that led the struggle for independence from Indonesia has won a major victory in last week's elections for a constituent assembly.

The party failed to win a two-thirds majority, however. As a result, it will have to work with other parties to draft a constitution for the new nation.

Election officials Thursday announced the results from Dili, the last of East Timor's 13 districts. They said the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor, FRETILIN, received 57 percent of the total vote, and, as a result, will have 55 of the 88 seats in the assembly.

The Democratic Party, founded by pro-independence student groups, came in second, with eight percent of the vote and seven seats. The Social Democratic Party was third, and will control six seats.

The assembly is to draft a constitution by December. FRETILIN officials say they have already written a draft document. But 60 votes are needed to pass the charter, meaning FRETILIN will need at least five votes from other parties to finish the task.

The spokesperson for the U.N. transitional administration in East Timor, Barbara Rais, says the presence of several parties in the constituent assembly bode well for the future of East Timor. "We have several of the 16 parties who were running in this election with elected representatives," she said. "Therefore, we will have a very interesting debate, once the constituent assembly starts working on drafting and discussing the first constitution of East Timor."

U.N. officials are gradually handing over day-to-day running of the territory to East Timorese, in preparation for independence sometime next year. Ten-thousand East Timorese are being trained to run the public service. One-thousand East Timorese police officers, of a total force of 3,000, are already on duty. And the international peacekeeping force has begun work on building the East Timorese military.

The head of the U.N. sponsored administration has pledged to announce an all East Timorese transitional cabinet, after the certified results of the election are published next week.