Over half of East Timorese registered to vote UN Mission says

In a statement issued in Dili, UNTAET said its Civil Registration Unit had registered a total of 435,000 people as of yesterday. On polling day, the registered voters will elect 88 representatives from a dozen political parties to form a Constituent Assembly that will draft East Timor’s first constitution.In a related development, the UN Volunteer programme (UNV) – the volunteer arm of the UN – reported that 60 new staff members had arrived in East Timor today to help prepare and conduct the elections. Today’s arrivals travelled straight to their duty stations, joining three-person UNTAET electoral teams deployed in March throughout the territory’s 13 districts, UNV said in a statement issued in Dili. Another group of 60 volunteers is expected to arrive on 27 May. The arrival of the District Electoral Officers brings to 820 the overall number of UN volunteers in East Timor, making their presence “the largest in scope and number in a single UN operation in the 30-year history of the UNV programme,” according to Kevin Gilroy, UNV Coordinator in East Timor. Some of the newly arrived UN Volunteers were part of a 500-strong contingent of UNV Electoral Officers who helped organize East Timor’s 1999 Popular Consultation, at which the vast majority of voters chose independence from Indonesia. “We are here to finish the job as we left it in September 1999,” said Dutch volunteer Jeroen Hamers. “I’m glad to be back and I’m looking forward to meeting again people I knew during the UNAMET [UN Mission in East Timor] time. I hope they are all well.”

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