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East Timor National Council elects business representative as new Speaker

East Timor National Council elects business representative as new Speaker

The National Council of East Timor today elected a representative from the private sector as its new Speaker, following the recent resignation of Xanana Gusmao, the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) reported in Dili.

Manuel Carrascalão, the Council's business representative, was elected after a motion failed to delay action on the issue until May to allow for further discussions. The motion - which received 11 votes in favor, 13 against and two abstentions - had been offered by the representative of Dili district, Maria Odete Faria.

In choosing the new Speaker, the Council had considered two candidates - CNRT representative José Ramos-Horta, nominated by Clementino dos Reis Amaral, (representing KOTA, a political party), and Mr. Carrascalão, who was nominated by the Dili district representative.

Four other candidates - Deputy Speaker Milena Pires, socialist party leader Avelino Coelho, representative of a non -governmental organization Aniceto Guterres, and Father José António da Costa, a representative of the Catholic Church - were nominated but declined to accept.

The vote, which for the first time was carried out by secret ballot, resulted in a tie vote with each candidate receiving 13 votes. There was one blank vote.

Mr. Ramos-Horta withdrew his name from consideration and the Deputy Speaker declared Mr. Carrascalão as Speaker.

In addressing the members for the first time as Speaker, Mr. Carrascalão said that he regretted the outcome because he had been in favor of postponing the vote for further consultations. But there was no way back and he would accept his responsibility, he said. He said that in his role as Speaker, he would act in accordance with the will of the majority.

Mr. Carrascalão replaces CNRT President Xanana Gusmão, who sent a letter to UNTAET chief Sergio Vieira de Mello on 28 March announcing his resignation.