Fwd (GLW): `Fretilin will win first Timor election'

Alan Bradley alanb at SPAMelf.brisnet.org.au
Mon Jan 22 04:27:35 MST 2001

The following article appears in the current issue of Green Left Weekly

`Fretilin will win first Timor election'

DARWIN — “We expect over 50% of the first elected parliament — definitely”,
Estanislau da Silva reassured trade unionists here on January 11, claiming
that his party, Fretilin, is the only political group in East Timor with
extensive grassroots support.

Da Silva, a member of Fretilin's central committee, said his party was “in
the best position to promote tolerance and democracy” and would back the
introduction of proportional representation so that minor parties can
achieve political representation in proportion to their vote.

Da Silva, who expects elections by July and independence by the end of the
year, also announced that Fretilin has pledged to back its former party
leader Xanana Gusmao if he runs for the country's presidency, “unless he
joins another political party”.

Da Silva backed Fretilin's support for reinstating the old colonial
language, Portuguese, as the country's official tongue, saying “The people
learnt a new language 24 years ago, they can do it again now”.

The move has been criticised by many inside East Timor for potentially
disenfranchising those under 30 who grew up speaking Indonesian and the
local Tetum language and never learnt to read, write or speak Portuguese.

Fretilin is to hold its national congress in May.

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