10/09/2001
Press Release
SC/7139



Security Council

4367th Meeting (AM)


SECURITY COUNCIL HEARS DETAILS OF FREE AND FAIR ELECTIONS IN EAST TIMOR


Today in Dili, the Independent Electoral Commission announced the final certified results for the election held on 30 August and declared that the criteria for a free and fair election had been met, Jean-Marie Guéhenno, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, told the Security Council this morning.


As Mr. Guéhenno briefed the Council on the situation in East Timor, he reported that the elections to the Constituent Assembly had been held with participation from more than 91 per cent of the electorate.  There was not a single confirmed allegation of a breach of the Electoral Offences Regulation.


He said that more than 1,700 observers had uniformly praised the conduct of the election and, generally, counting was closely observed.  The parties contesting the election had raised a number of questions about spoiled and blank ballots.  The Independent Electoral Commission had concluded, however, that the percentage of invalid votes –- approximately 5.4 per cent overall in the national ballot and 8.71 per cent in the district ballots –- was well within acceptable parameters.


Mr. Guéhenno also provided a detailed account of the voting:  of the

16 parties that had contested the elections, 12 had won seats in the 88-seat Constituent Assembly.  The East Timor National Liberation Front (FRETILIN), the party which had led the resistance struggle, received the strongest support, securing 55 of the 88 seats in the Constituent Assembly.  Second and third were two newly-established parties –- the Democratic Party (PD) and the Social Democratic Party (PSD) -– winning seven and six seats respectively.


Twenty-three women members, composing 27 per cent of those elected, would serve in the 88-seat Assembly, and altogether, 12 parties would be represented, he said.  Also, Francisco Xavier do Amaral, the leader of the Timorese Social Democratic Association (ASDT), which came in fourth with 7.8 per cent of the vote and six seats, had announced his willingness to form a coalition with FRETILIN.  Should that coalition materialize, FRETILIN and ASDT would have a controlling majority in the Assembly. 


He said in the next few days, Mr. Vieira de Mello hoped to announce the formation of a new Cabinet, which would be composed entirely of East Timorese and reflect broadly the election outcome.  The inaugural session of the Constituent Assembly was scheduled for 15 September.  The members of the Constituent Assembly would soon begin drafting a constitution.  Their challenge would be to live up to the expectations of the East Timorese, who had entrusted them with the weighty responsibility of organizing a sustainable democratic State.


Delegations this morning overwhelming welcomed the successful outcome of the recently held elections, congratulating the East Timorese people for their "political maturity"; UNTAET, under the leadership of Sergio Vieira de Mello, for the manner in which the elections were organized and conducted; and the international community for its support, particularly Indonesia.


Speakers called on all political parties to respect the election outcome, work together to draft the constitution and prepare East Timor for independence. Many agreed that it was, indeed, a proud moment in the history of United Nations peacekeeping operations.  They looked forward to the Secretary-General's report in October to define the future United Nations presence in a post-independent East Timor.


Statements were made by the representatives of United Kingdom, Russian Federation, the United States, Ireland, Norway, Tunisia, Bangladesh, Jamaica, Mali, Colombia, Mauritius, Ukraine, China, Singapore, France, Belgium (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Australia, Japan, Portugal and New Zealand.


The meeting, which began at 10:50 a.m., was adjourned at 12:23 p.m.


Background


The General Assembly placed East Timor on its list of Non-Self-Governing Territories in 1960.  At that time Portugal was its administering Power.  In 1974, Portugal withdrew and Indonesia intervened and later declared East Timor its 27th province.  The United Nations never recognized this annexation, and both the Security Council and the Assembly called for Indonesia's withdrawal.


Beginning in 1982, successive Secretaries-General held regular talks with Indonesia and Portugal to resolve the territory's status.  A set of agreements between Indonesia and Portugal was signed in New York on 5 May 1999, which entrusted the Secretary-General with organizing a "popular consultation" to ascertain the East Timorese response to a proposal for special autonomy for the territory within Indonesia.


To carry out the consultation, the United Nations Mission in East Timor (UNAMET) was established on 11 June 1999.  On 30 August 1999, some 78.5 per cent of East Timorese voters opted to reject the proposed autonomy and begin a process of transition towards independence.  Following the announcement of the result, pro-integration militias, supported by elements of the Indonesian security forces, launched a campaign of violence.  The Indonesian authorities did not respond effectively to the violence, and many East Timorese were killed or displaced from their homes.  A multinational force -- INTERFET -- was authorized by the Council, which eventually restored order.


On 19 October 1999, the Indonesian People's Consultative Assembly formally recognized the result of the consultation, and on 25 October, the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) was established (Security Council resolution 1272 (1999)).  The UNTAET was mandated to provide security and maintain law and order throughout the territory; to establish an effective administration; to assist in the development of civil and social services; to coordinate and deliver humanitarian, rehabilitation and development assistance; to support capacity-building for self-government; and to assist in the establishment of conditions for sustainable development.


Immediately following the establishment of UNTAET, the Mission established its headquarters in Dili and began the deployment of personnel.  The handover of command of military operations from INTERFET to UNTAET was completed on

28 February.


On 16 March, Sergio Vieira de Mello, Special Representative of the Secretary-General in East Timor and head of UNTAET, announced that East Timor had scheduled its first democratic elections for 30 August to elect the 88-member Constituent Assembly that would draft a constitution.  Mr. de Mello made the announcement after signing, in Dili, the regulation on the "Election of a Constituent Assembly to Prepare a Constitution for an Independent and Democratic East Timor," which had been approved by the National Council on 13 March.


According to UNTAET, East Timor would elect a Constituent Assembly made up of one representative elected by each district on a majority basis and 75 members elected on a proportional basis.  The elected assembly would prepare and adopt a constitution for an independent and democratic East Timor in 90 days.  The UNTAET also announced the establishment of an Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), which would have exclusive electoral authority.  It was composed of a Chief Electoral Officer and five voting Commissioners -- two East Timorese and three internationally recognized experts –- who were to be appointed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan.


On 30 August, in a calm and peaceful atmosphere, hundreds of thousands of East Timorese voted in the territory's first democratic elections, organized by the United Nations.


On 6 September, UNTAET announced that the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (FRETILIN) had captured a majority of 55 seats in the 88-member Constituent Assembly.  FRETILIN won 43 of the 75 national seats and 12 of the possible 13 district representative posts.  Just over one-quarter of the

88 members, 24, will be women.  The results for the final remaining district, Dili, were announced separately earlier in the day, with FRETILIN winning the district representative seat.


In capturing its majority, FRETILIN far outdistanced the other political parties.  The Democratic Party won just seven seats, followed by the Social Democratic Party and the Associação Social-Democrata Timorense with six each.  The Timorese Democratic Union, National Timorese Party, Klibur Oan Timor Asuwain, People's Party of Timor and the Christian Democratic Party each won two seats.  The remaining three seats went to the Socialist Party of Timor, the Liberal Party and the Christian Democratic Party of Timor.


Mr. Vieira de Mello will now appoint the second Transitional Government of East Timor, which will be formed and will be headed by an all-Timorese Council of Ministers.  Parties and independent candidates have until Saturday evening to lodge complaints with the IEC Board of Commissioners.  The Board will respond to the few complaints filed so far by the certification deadline of 10 September.  The results will not be official until they are certified by the Board and formally handed to Mr. Vieira de Mello at a ceremony on Monday 10 September.


Mr. Vieira de Mello also announced that on 5 September, Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda extended his country's congratulations on the elections and invited UNTAET and East Timorese leaders to meet with President Megawati Sukarnoputri and other senior officials in Jakarta.  The UNTAET chief said that he, along with Xanana Gusmão and José Ramos-Horta, would travel to Jakarta next Thursday to meet with President Megawati.


The Security Council last met privately on East Timor elections, on

23 August when it urged large voter turnout with many of its members voicing their support to the ongoing electoral campaign.


Briefing by Secretariat


JEAN-MARIE GUÉHENNO, Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, reported that the elections to the Constituent Assembly had been held on 30 August in an "orderly and peaceful" manner.  That historic event, in which more than

91 per cent of the electorate participated, occurred exactly two years after the East Timorese voted overwhelmingly for independence from Indonesia on 30 August 1999.  Today in Dili, the Independent Electoral Commission had announced the final certified results and declared that the criteria for a free and fair election had been met.

Mr. Guéhenno provided a detailed account of the voting: of the 16 parties that had contested the elections, 12 had won seats in the 88-seat Constituent Assembly.  The East Timor National Liberation Front (FRETILIN), the party which had led the resistance struggle, received the strongest support.  FRETILIN had not fielded a district candidate in Oecussi, but the independent candidate who won there had previously pledged his support for FRETILIN.  The determination of the East Timorese to embrace democracy had been evident throughout the electoral process.  With respect to the campaign, there was not a single confirmed allegation of a breach of the Electoral Offences Regulation.


On election day, he said, the 248 polling centres were almost entirely run by some 5,000 East Timorese.  In several rural districts, many voters traveled in family groups by foot overnight, in order to arrive by opening time, while others slept outside to be ahead on the line.  Crowds formed early, and despite some delays, very few disturbances had occurred.  Those that had were minor, resulting from impatience or over-enthusiasm at that historic opportunity to vote.  None of those had cast any doubt on the integrity of the process.  In total some

382,968 East Timorese cast their ballots, or approximately 91 per cent of the 421,018 eligible votes.  By district, the lowest turnout had been in Dili, with more than 88 per cent; the highest had been at Ermera, with 94 per cent. 


Continuing, he said that throughout the day, the border with Indonesia had remained open, and normal crossings in both directions had taken place.  Only six refugees who had previously registered in East Timor, and then returned to West Timor, were known to have crossed back again in order to vote.  That had occurred in the Oecussi District.  More than 1,700 observers had monitored the election, including some 500 international monitors and 1,200 East Timorese.  Their reports had uniformly praised the conduct of the election. 


Generally, he said, counting was closely observed.  The parties contesting the election had raised a number of questions about spoiled and blank ballots, but the Independent Electoral Commission had concluded that the percentage of invalid votes –- approximately 5.4 per cent overall in the national ballot and 8.71 per cent in the district ballots –- was well within acceptable parameters. 


FRETILIN secured 55 of the 88 seats in the Constituent Assembly, he went on.  Second and third were two newly established parties -– the Democratic Party (PD) and the Social Democratic Party (PSD) -– winning seven and six seats respectively.  Together, the two parties broadly represented the activists of the former National Council of Timorese Resistance.  The Timorese Social Democratic Association (ASDT), led by Francisco Xavier do Amaral, came in fourth place, with 7.8 per cent of the vote and six seats.  Four other parties, all drawing their strength from the social conservatives with traditionalist leanings, each gained two seats in the Assembly. 


He said that none of the independent national candidates had gained a seat, although one district independent won in Oecussi.  Twenty-three women members, or 27 per cent, would serve in the 88-seat Assembly, and altogether, 12 parties would be represented.  In an interesting development, he said, the leader of the ASDT, Francisco Xavier Amaral, had announced his willingness to form a coalition with FRETILIN.  Should that coalition materialize, FRETILIN and ASDT would have a controlling majority in the Assembly. 


In a positive sign of future good relations, he added, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Indonesia, Hassan Wirajuda, called Sergio Vieira de Mello to congratulate the East Timorese and invite him, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmao, President of the National Council of Timorese Resistance, Alkatiri and José Ramos-Horta, Cabinet Member for Foreign Affiars of the East Timor Transitional Administration, to a meeting with the Indonesian President on 12 September.  Also, in the next few days, Mr. Vieira de Mello hoped to announce the formation of a new Cabinet, which would be composed entirely of East Timorese and reflect broadly the election outcome.  The inaugural session of the Constituent Assembly was scheduled for

15 September. 


Concerning refugees, he said that the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) had had indications that some refugees in West Timor wished to return to East Timor but had not done so out of fear.  The Administration and the Indonesian authorities were currently finalizing arrangements for what was hoped would be the return of an estimated 2,000 refugees from West Timor to East Timor's Ainaro District, later in the week.  An interagency security assessment mission dispatched to West Timor in July had recommended the conclusion of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Indonesian Government and the United Nations, specifying the exact security arrangements to be provided to United Nations personnel.  Then, the security phase could be lowered from Five to Four in all Districts in West Timor, except Belu District.  A draft agreement was being finalized. 


He said that the successful conduct of the election and the commitment of the parties to the Pact of National Unity boded well for the future of East Timor.  The next few months would pose difficult challenges.  Meanwhile, the members of the Constituent Assembly would soon begin drafting a Constitution.  Their challenge would be to live up to the expectations of the East Timorese who had entrusted them with the weighty responsibility of organizing a sustainable democratic State.  Concurrently, UNTAET, together with the East Timorese Cabinet, would continue to lay the necessary foundations for effective and economic administrative structure. 


STEWART ELDON (United Kingdom), welcoming the successful outcome of the elections, said that the world had witnessed “the appetite of the East Timorese for democracy”.  The way in which the elections were organized and the way in which the East Timorese participated were commendable.  He applauded the East Timorese approach to the elections.  He called on all the Timorese political parties to respect the outcome, work together to draft the constitution and prepare East Timor for independence.  Congratulations were due not only to the East Timorese, but also to the United Nations, Department of Peacekeeping Operations and Sergio Vieira de Mello for the way in which the elections were organized.


It was a proud moment in the history of United Nations peacekeeping operations, he said, not only due to the success described, but also because UNTAET was something new and challenging for the Organization and it had carried it off very well.  It was important that the international community remain engaged in East Timor.  The statement to be adopted later reiterated the importance of a United Nations presence in East Timor.  All parts of the United Nations system needed to assist East Timor during that period.


ANDREY E. GRANOVSKY (Russian Federation) said the high voter turnout in East Timor was noteworthy.  The UNTAET deserved high commendation for its accomplishments.  The election atmosphere also prompted praise for Indonesia’s attitude, which had been one of a good neighbour.  The fact that a new State had been born would undoubtedly be an important event in the eyes of the world community.


No one, however, could afford to lose sight of the fact that the birth of the new State would be accompanied by a tremendous amount of work in the construction of relevant national apparatus, he said.  Most of the effort would have to come from East Timorese.  Discussions now needed to focus on the new format of the United Nation presence in East Timor.  That format would have to be agreed with the future government of the country.


James B.Cunningham (United States) said the recently held election in East Timor was encouraging news and cause for satisfaction.  Democracy was now established on a solid base.  He appealed to East Timorese leaders who spoken of an inclusive approach to follow through with that.  Such an approach was a wise one for the long-term and one that should be emulated.


The conduct of the election was also an example to the world community, he said.  His delegation also supported Mr. de Mello’s attempts to form a new East Timorese cabinet.  Dialogue was now the way to move forward and resolve all differences, particularly those with Indonesia.


RICHARD RYAN (Ireland) warmly welcomed the fact that the elections took place in a peaceful atmosphere and was encouraged by the high voter turnout.  He congratulated the East Timorese and their leaders for the courage they had demonstrated in the past two years.  He congratulated UNTAET for its efforts and welcomed the cooperation extended by the Indonesian Government.


The holding of elections represented a crucial step in a complex and lengthy process towards independence, he said.  Ireland believed, however, that an international presence would be necessary after independence.  His delegation supported the Presidential statement that would be read out later, as it provided a balanced view of the Council on the situation in East Timor.


WEGGER CHRISTIAN STRØMMEN (Norway) said the massive voter turnout in East Timor’s elections was an example of East Timorese exercising their democratic rights without fear.  He urged all political parties to live up to their obligations.  East Timor was again entering a challenging phase, as the declaration of its independence approached.  For a successful drafting of the constitution, the elected Assembly would need wide-ranging support.


The months ahead would also bring new challenges for UNTAET, which would now have to adjust its routine to respond to a new democratically-elected Government, he said.  He encouraged continued support for East Timor in the post independence period.  It was important for the United Nations to remain in East Timor until State institutions were put on a solid footing.


OTHMAN JERANDI (Tunisia) said that the first elections in the history of East Timor confirmed the will of the people there to lay the foundations for a democratic state.  He commended the exemplary way in which the elections were held.  What was important today was not the success of one party or another but the success of the electoral process, which benefitted from the support of the United Nations and the international community as a whole. 


The international community must continue to lend its support, particularly during the crucial stage when the new constitution was being drawn up, he said. The elections made it possible to switch from a transitional administration to an independent East Timorese Government.  He hoped to receive further details on a post-independence United Nations presence in the forthcoming Secretary-General’s report. 


ANWARUL KARIM CHOWDHURY (Bangladesh) said that the Council was taking up East Timor at a historic moment.  The world had witnessed a remarkable event with the successful conclusion of the elections.  Through a 91 per cent voter turnout, the East Timorese had exhibited their desire for participatory democracy.  The elections were a glowing example to the world. 


He paid tribute to the Secretary-General’s Special Representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello, and all his colleagues for their untiring efforts.  He also congratulated FRETILIN for its achievements. 


The fact that women had won 27 per cent of the seats in the Constituent Assembly was also to be commended, he said.  It was now time for the Council to pledge its support for the second phase of work in East Timor.  The Presidential Statement to be adopted reiterated a strong post-independence United Nations presence in East Timor.


PATRICIA DURRANT (Jamaica) welcomed the successful outcome of the recent elections and was pleased that the process had been a smooth one.  She was heartened to note that the elections had received a clean bill of health.


That was due in no small measure to the people of East Timor, the leadership of the Secretary-General, the work of UNTAET and the support received from the international community, she said.  It was clear that the wishes of the people of East Timor had been reflected in the election results.  The work of the newly elected Constituent Assembly was at a crucial point.  The constitution would be an important guide for the future of East Timor.  She stressed the importance of finding common ground in drafting it.


In addition, she said that the successful elections must encourage the international community to stay the course and continue its involvement.


MAMOUMOU TOURE (Mali) said it was noteworthy that the first election took place in East Timor in a spirit of calm exactly two years after its people had voted for independence.  There was no doubt that East Timor had committed itself to the path of democracy.  The establishment of the Constituent Assembly was a decisive step towards freedom.


The 91 per cent voter turnout was a clear demonstration of the political will of the East Timorese people, he said.  The success of the elections was due to the people of East Timor and their leadership, as well as the cooperation of Indonesia and the support of the international community.  He commended the excellent work done by UNTAET in the transition period and looked forward to the Secretary-General’s report, in which he would outline new measures for a United Nations presence in the post-independence period. 

ALFONSO VALDIVIESO (Colombia) said that while there had been some concerns about possible political violence, he was delighted to note that there had been no violence during the election.  The East Timorese had managed to overcome the ghosts of its past. 


He congratulated the people of East Timor for the massive voter turnout.  Now, a crucial exercise must be undertaken -- the drafting of a national constitution.  He hoped that, as announced, FRETILIN would be able to join forces with the representatives of the minority parties to craft a constitution that supported the expectations and needs of all East Timorese. 


The establishment of the Constituent Assembly was a new step in the democratic life of the territory, he said.  It was also important that a truth and reconciliation commission be set up.  He hoped that in the Secretary-General’s report it would prove possible to define how to maintain a United Nations presence in the post-independence phase.  Colombia supported the Presidential Statement which would be adopted at the next meeting. 


BIJAYEDUTH GOKOOL (Mauritius) said the successful election just held in East Timor was a glowing example to the world community.  He also noted with appreciation the election of 23 women.  There was no doubt that East Timor was now moving forward to fulfil its historical destiny.  Current successes, however, should not breed complacency.  What must now be determined was how to give the East Timorese a constitution that reflected their legitimate aspirations.  Indonesia’s invitation to Mr. de Mello and the message of congratulations to East Timor on the success of the election augured well for future bilateral relations between that country and the newly emerging State.  His country also supported the Presidential statement that would be issued.


VALERY KUCHINSKY (Ukraine) said he welcomed the successful holding of the election in East Timor.  The cooperation of the Indonesian Government in the process was also noteworthy.  East Timor, however, should still remain a priority for UNTAET.  A peaceful environment must be maintained for the creation of a constitution.  The drafting of that constitution would require the assistance of the international community.  While the election was an extraordinary event on the way to independence, a great deal still remained to be done that required international support and United Nations assistance.  Ukraine would continue to offer its support.


CHEN XU (China) said the election in East Timor was a very important step in the independence.  His delegation appreciated the efforts by the East Timorese leaders and people in their participation and the spirit they had all demonstrated in the process.  He expressed appreciation to UNTAET for its work and the Indonesian Government for its efforts.  Now the election was over there was still a lot to be done.  The members of the Assembly should shoulder their responsibilities and live up to the trust placed in them by the East Timorese people.  The international community must also continue its assistance to the territory.  China thus supported maintaining a substantial international presence in East Timor in the post-independence period.


YAP ONG HENG (Singapore) said the large voter turnout in East Timor’s election was an encouraging sign in the territory’s transition to democracy.  As the results showed that no party had won an outright two-thirds majority, he urged continued concord and tolerance among them.  It could not be over-emphasized that the potential for instability and vulnerability still remained.  The elections should therefore not signal the end of UNTAET and the United Nations engagement in East Timor.  No plans for an early withdrawal should therefore be made at this juncture, since it could send wrong signals to the people of East Timor.  Stability required a substantial United Nations presence post-independence.


The President of the Council, JEAN-DAVID LEVITTE (France), speaking in his national capacity, congratulated the two winners in the recent elections.  First, the East Timorese, who had displayed their political maturity.  Secondly, UNTAET, under the leadership of Sergio Vieira de Mello, which had carried out its tasks in a commendable manner.  “When we think of the violence which occurred in the wake of the referendum, we can fully grasp the magnitude of the advances made.” 


France, today, wished to convey to all the elected officials both congratulations and best wishes in the tasks which lay ahead of them, he said.  It was up to them to build the foundations on which democracy in East Timor could flourish.  Next month, the Council would have to define how the international presence would need to evolve in order to best support East Timor.  International support would have to continue so that the East Timorese could benefit from their hard-won independence. 


JEAN DE RUYT (Belgium), speaking on behalf of the European Union, welcomed the historic elections, which, ten days ago, East Timorese participated in with "great moderation and serenity".  The Union's observer mission on the ground had reported that the elections had been calm and peaceful.  The Union congratulated the East Timorese people and their leaders for having successfully completed the first but crucial step on the road to the establishment of democratic political institutions in a future East Timorese State.  The long independence process had today brought its reward.  Also welcome was the significant representation of women in the Constituent Assembly.  The United Nations and UNTAET were also to be congratulated.


JOHN DAUTH (Australia) joined other speakers in praising the United Nations and the East Timorese for the successful and professional conduct of elections.  He also thanked the Indonesian Government for the highly constructive role it played before, during and after the elections.  Above all, the overwhelming participation of the people of East Timor had demonstrated, yet again, their shared determination to move towards an independent and democratic future.  The high level of enthusiasm and respect displayed for the political process so far was a positive sign for a democratic future for East Timor. 


He said that the establishment of a multi-party Constituent Assembly in the coming weeks would mark the beginning of a new phase in the transition to independence.  Its most important and immediate task would be to draft a constitution.  Broad representation and the commendable presence of 23 women should ensure that all East Timorese had a clear voice and a role in that process.  His country looked forward to working with the Council in coming months, as it began to address the key decisions which would determine the future presence of the United Nations in East Timor.  Strong ongoing support through a sound funding base and strategic planning were critical to ensuring a peaceful and sustainable outcome.


YUKIO SATOH (Japan) welcomed the fact that the elections were conducted peacefully and in an orderly fashion.  The high voter turnout was a clear

demonstration of the will of the East Timorese to participate in the establishment of a democratic State.  Japan had dispatched a team of observers as well as provided financial support amounting to $1.2 million for the elections. 


Now that the elections had been successfully held, he urged all parties to adhere to its results and work towards the establishment of a democratic independent East Timor.  The way in which the Constituent Assembly discharged its work would have a defining impact on the future of the country.  There would be areas in which UNTAET would have to continue its activities.  Close cooperation between UNTAET and the government would be essential to ensure a smooth transition.


To make the future political process stable and predictable, the Council must define the post-independence presence of the United Nations, he continued.  The United Nations should maintain a military, police and civilian presence.  He hoped that the Secretary-General would carefully examine such needs in submitting his report in October.  While the successful elections were a true cause for celebration, many more difficult issues would have to be addressed by the East Timorese people to ensure the successful attainment of independence.


FRANCISCO SEIXAS DA COSTA (Portugal) congratulated UNTAET for a job well done.  The success of the elections was due to the staff on the ground and the support of the international community.  Portugal had sent a national team to observe the elections and welcomed the peaceful manner in which they took place. 


Today, tribute must be paid to the people of East Timor, who proved their political maturity, he said.  He trusted that all the political parties would accept the results of the ballots.  He hoped that the work of the Constituent Assembly would reflect the principle of national unity.  East Timor had come a long way since September 1999.  The international community must continue its support through independence and beyond.  Portugal was committed to remain at the forefront of those efforts. 


TREVOR HUGHES (New Zealand) said he warmly congratulated the people of East Timor on the completion of their election and UNTAET for the successful arrangements.  The latter had now established a benchmark for future elections under the auspices of the United Nations.  His delegation strongly believed that the United Nations must strongly equip East Timor to take control of its affairs. It must therefore remain in East Timor until the new country had established self-sustaining institutions.


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