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Top UN official in East Timor welcomes end to presidential race deadlock

Top UN official in East Timor welcomes end to presidential race deadlock

The head of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) today welcomed the end to the presidential campaign deadlock after candidate Francisco Xavier do Amaral and his supporters announced they would ask the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to remove all party symbols from the ballot for the upcoming election.

"I would like to congratulate Xavier do Amaral, as well as ASDT and PARENTIL, for the courageous initiative they have taken to offer up a solution to this roadblock we have encountered," Sergio Vieira de Mello said today in Dili. "This shows statesmanship and a genuine regard for the welfare of the country as a whole. Xavier do Amaral and his supporters have set a high standard for political maturity in this country."

Mr. Vieira de Mello also reiterated that "the independence and the integrity of the Independent Electoral Commission must be beyond the challenge of anyone, including national leaders, otherwise its ability to guarantee free and fair elections, and serve the interests of the people, is compromised."

Last week, the IEC Board said it could only accept a request by the nine parties that nominated independence leader Xanana Gusmão to have their logos removed from the ballot only if similar requests were received from the two parties that nominated Mr. do Amaral, a Deputy Speaker of the Constituent Assembly.

While the PARENTIL (National Republican Party of East Timor) had acceded to the request, the ASDT (Timorese Social Democrats Association) did not. Today's announcement satisfies the IEC's condition that an established procedure can only be changed through the agreement of all parties, and in a way that treats all parties equally.