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The Carter Center begins Election Observation in East Timor

ATLANTA, GA…The Carter Center has deployed initial long-term observers throughout East Timor to begin reporting on the campaign period and general political climate in advance of an August 30 election for the new territory's first Constituent Assembly. Additional long-term observers will join the team in early August for a total of eight.

Formation of the 88-member assembly will mark the beginning of transferring sovereign authority of East Timor from UNTAET - the United Nations Transitional Authority for East Timor - to the East Timorese, who voted for independence from Indonesia in August 1999. Prior to the 1999 referendum, The Carter Center's reports focused international attention on intimidation and violence by anti-independence factions and the Indonesian military.

"Carter Center representatives will be here again not only as witnesses for the international community, which supports this historic transition, but as witnesses for the East Timorese people, who have demonstrated enormous courage in their struggle for self-determination," said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, chair of the Atlanta-based Carter Center.

The Center re-opened its field office in East Timor in early May to prepare for the long-term observation and for the deployment of a team to monitor balloting on August 30. The office is under the direction of Dr. Nancy Lutz, an anthropologist with more than 10 years research and publication experience on East Timor who also served as a Carter Center long-term observer in 1999.

"Our observers will travel widely outside the capital of Dili and will report on security in the territory and how the political parties conduct their campaigns, and whether citizens have sufficient understanding of the electoral process," said Rachel Fowler, East Timor project manager of the Center's Democracy Program.

Observers will meet with local representatives of political parties, East Timorese non-governmental organizations, and domestic monitoring groups. They also will work closely with East Timorese political and civil society leaders, UNTAET, the UNDP, and other international observer organizations during the observation.

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