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Hailing elections in East Timor, Council urges cooperation towards statehood

Hailing elections in East Timor, Council urges cooperation towards statehood

The United Nations Security Council today welcomed the 30 August elections for East Timor's first Constituent Assembly and urged all parties to work together to draft a constitution that reflects the will of the East Timorese people.

In a statement by Jean-David Levitte of France, which holds the security body's rotating presidency this month, the Council hailed in particular the orderly and peaceful conduct of the elections and the very high voter turnout. It also called on all parties to fully respect and implement the election results.

The Council furthermore recognized the important role of the East Timorese leadership, the cooperation extended by the Government of Indonesia during the election period, and the work of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) in facilitating "a smooth and representative election process."

Looking ahead, the Council called upon the parties to cooperate for the successful completion of the final steps towards independence and reiterated the importance of a substantial international presence in East Timor after independence.

The Council issued its statement after hearing a briefing by Under Secretary-General for Peacekeeping, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, who said that in the next few days, UNTAET chief Sergio Vieira de Mello should announce a new Cabinet which is expected to be composed entirely of East Timorese. Mr. Guéhenno noted that the forthcoming report of the Secretary-General on East Timor would present the planning for the Mission that will follow UNTAET.

In another development, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) today presented its final, certified election results to Mr. Vieira de Mello at a ceremony in Dili. IEC Chairperson Bong-Scuk Sohn praised the East Timorese for the dignity and determination with which they cast their ballots in such massive numbers on 30 August, when an estimated 91 per cent of the population had turned out to vote. "They sent a signal to their community leaders, and indeed to the whole world, that for them, a successful electoral process was more important than any particular outcome," the Chairperson said. "It is an attitude which typically distinguishes mature democracies from those still in a process of development."

Mr. Vieira de Mello said the people of East Timor "have proven the sceptics wrong" and that they have shown that their country's democracy, after only one election, "has indeed taken root."