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Thursday, 17 January, 2002, 11:36 GMT
UN sets East Timor election date
Voters with identity cards
Voters turned out in force for last year's election
East Timor is to hold its first presidential election on 14 April, the United Nations has announced.

As the territory heads towards full independence on 20 May, the UN is also setting up a commission of truth and reconciliation to help heal the wounds from years of bloodshed.

The 16 parties that contested last year's election for a constituent assembly are eligible to nominate presidential candidates. New parties will also be able to register and nominate candidates.

Xanana Gusmao
Xanana Gusmao is widely tipped as the first president
Independent candidates will be allowed to stand for election if they can collect 5,000 signatures supporting them.

Results will be announced on 17 April and an electoral commission will certify the result on 21 April.

The electoral commission will consist of three East Timorese and two international members but no appointments have yet been made.

Independence leader Xanana Gusmao is widely expected to win the election.

Truth and reconciliation

The seven members of the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation are due to be named on Thursday and will be sworn in on Monday.

A Portuguese soldier of the UN force
UN troops restored peace to the territory
Pat Walsh, the UN co-ordinator of the project, told the BBC that the commission would not deal with serious crimes such as murder and rape, but would try to arrange community reconciliation where less serious offences were involved.

He said anyone who volunteered to come before the commission would not face prosecution.

The territory's UN administrator, Sergio Vieira de Mello, said the commissioners were chosen for their high moral character, integrity and commitment to human rights.

Death toll

It is believed they will include a former political prisoner and a pro-Indonesian supporter.

Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony in 1975 and annexed it in 1976.

Between 100,000 and 200,000 East Timorese are estimated to have died in the early years of the occupation, many from starvation or disease.

Voter with child
Last year's voters felt confident enough to bring their children
In August 1999, a year after Indonesian dictator President Suharto was ousted, the UN sponsored a referendum in the territory and a large majority voted for independence.

In response pro-Indonesia militias, supported by the military, went on a rampage of killing and destruction.

After international condemnation, Indonesia accepted UN troops and an Australian-led force landed in September 1999.

The following month the UN took over the territory's administration to prepare it for independence.

The 88-member constituent assembly, elected last August, will become East Timor's first parliament.

It was hoped a constitution would be finished before 25 January when the UN Security Council meets to review progress but it has been delayed after concern by US Congress members that it needed more time.

See also:

14 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
Megawati approves East Timor judges
30 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
In pictures: Timor's historic vote
29 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Eyewitness: Enthusiasm for Timor vote
27 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
East Timor's first election
25 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Gusmao runs for Timor presidency
30 Aug 00 | East Timor
Analysis: Gusmao's key role
30 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Timeline: East Timor's 25 turbulent years
30 Aug 01 | Asia-Pacific
Historic East Timor poll 'a success'
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