The U.N. special representative for East Timor, Sergio Viera de Mello, says there are signs that stability is returning to the territory. The comments came as the Security Council began discussing developments in East Timor and the upcoming elections for the Timorese General Assembly, the latest step in the move toward independence.

Sergio Viera de Mello says much work still needs to be done in East Timor. But he says evidence of the move toward democracy can be seen in preparations for legislative elections. "Now is not the time for complacency, but a time to buckle down and complete the mandate you gave us to the very best of out ability," Mr. de Mello said. "Elections will take place in exactly a month's time. A constituent assembly will be convened on the basis of the outcome of that ballot. A second transitional government will be put into place and East Timor will, soon thereafter, become the first new nation of the millennium."

Mr. Viera de Mello outlined for the Security Council several key steps which the United Nations will help introduce in order to ensure that stability continues in East Timor. He said U.N. officials will continue working to ensure stability, encourage democratic institutions and peaceful elections, and help to consolidate a lasting framework for democratic government.

The United Nations envoy also expressed his satisfaction with the efforts to involve women in the electoral process. There are at present 999 candidates standing for political office. Of them, 268 are women. The U.N. envoy cited this as evidence that U.N. efforts in the region are a success.