Dili, 23 February 2002


East Timor independence leader Xanana Gusmão was nominated today as a candidate for the first presidential elections by nine political parties, minutes before the 12:00 noon registration deadline. The elections are set for 14 April.

By the end of the nomination period today, two candidates had been nominated: Xanana Gusmão and Francisco Xavier do Amaral, a deputy Speaker of the Constituent Assembly.

"I am very pleased that Xanana Gusmão, who is a true symbol of East Timor's long struggle for independence, has agreed to run in the first presidential election," Special Representative of the Secretary-General Sergio Vieira de Mello said today.

"Despite the fact that he has decided not to run as an independent candidate - which I would have welcomed with even greater enthusiasm - Xanana Gusmão has given me his assurances that he will be a candidate who strives to represent the aspirations of all East Timorese, above any party political agenda and who will work only for the good of the nation," SRSG added.

Amaral was nominated by PARENTIL (Partido Republika Nacional Timor Leste or National Republican Party of East Timor) on 4 February and by ASDT (Associação Social-Democrata Timorense) on 19 February.

Gusmão was nominated today by PSD (Partido Social Democrata - Social Democratic Party), PD (Partido Democrático - Democratic Party), UDT (União Democrática Timorense - Timorese Democratic Union), KOTA (Klibur Oan Timor Asuawin), PNT (Partido Nasionalista Timorense - National Party of Timor), PST (Partido Socialista de Timor - Socialist Party of Timor), UDC/PDC (Partido Democrata Cristão - Christian Democratic Party), PTT (Partido Trabalhista Timorense - Timor Workers Party), and PDM (Partai Demokratik Maubere - Maubere Democratic Party).

The nomination period is now followed by a six-day inspection and objection period, beginning at 9:00am tomorrow, 24 February, during which any eligible voter can inspect the nominations at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Headquarters.

Eligible voters may also submit objections if they believe that the registration application does not meet the criteria stipulated in the Electoral Regulation, UNTAET Regulation 2002/01. Objections must be filed on forms provided by the IEC and must be supported by documentary evidence.

The deadline to submit an objection is 17:30 on 1 March 2002; no objections will be accepted after this time.

The electoral campaign starts on 15 March and ends on 12 April, two days before election day.

The presidential election will be the third UN-administered ballot in East Timor. Unlike the previous two polls, East Timorese hold a majority of seats on the IEC's Board of Commissioners, control all 13 district electoral offices and participate in the counting of the ballots.

The five Commissioner, recently appointed by United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, are: Benjamin Corte Real, Director of the University of East Timor; Antero Benedito da Silva, former head of the NGO Forum; and Maria Aurora dos Reis,

Director of the Christian Children's Fund in East Timor. The two internationals are Argentine Horácio Boneo, former director of the United Nations' Electoral Assistance Division and currently an electoral and governance consultant; and Fijian Walter Rigamoto, the Supervisor of Elections in Fiji.

The Board will remain in session until 21 April, when the certified results will be announced.

The Board will settle disputes related to the electoral process, ensure respect for the electoral regulation and international standards for a democratic election, and certify the election results and transmit them to the Secretary-General through his Special Representative, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

Please note that for the duration of the Presidential Elections, Xanana Gusmão's media will be handled by Inês Almeida. She may be contacted on 61-439-889-521 or inesindili@hotmail.com