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"We expect over 50% of the first elected parliament -- definitely ... [Fretilin is] in the best position to promote tolerance and democracy" Estanislau da Silva, member of Fretilin's central committee

Green Left Weekly

Wednesday January 24, 2001

`Fretilin will win first Timor election'

Peter Johnston, 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. 


Green Left Weekly
GLW was launched in 1990 by the Democratic Socialist Party (DSP), the socialist youth group Resistance and other progressive activists to present the views excluded by the big business media. In these days of growing media concentration GLW is an independent voice committed to human and civil rights, global peace and environmental sustainability, democracy and equality.
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