The United Nations Security Council has received a glowing report on the recent elections in East Timor but was again cautioned that a strong international commitment there will remain necessary.
U.N. Peacekeeping Chief Jean-Marie Guehenno hailed the August 30 voting for the 88-member constituent assembly in East Timor. He noted the voting was free of fraud or violence and, with a turnout of 91 percent of eligible voters, more resembled an election in a stable democracy than in a country hosting a peacekeeping operation.
The new assembly will begin its work Saturday and will have three months to draft a constitution in advance of full East Timorese independence next year. Mr. Guehenno said it is essential that, during the transition to independence and beyond, East Timor continue to receive strong international support.
"The continued commitment and patience of the East Timorese and the continued strong support of the international community will be essential during this complex period, and beyond independence, if East Timor is to have a sustainable democratic future," he said.
In a formal statement, the Security Council endorsed Mr. Guehenno's recommendation for a continued international presence in East Timor after independence. Next month U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan is expected to present a detailed report on planning for independence.