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UN chief calls for peaceful vote in East Timor

world Updated: Apr 07, 2007 06:03 IST

AFP
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UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon on Saturday called on all parties in East Timor to make the country's first presidential election since independence a free and fair one.

"I hope the elections will be free, fair, transparent and credible. I hope they will be unmarred by violence and intimidation, and I hope they will lead to results accepted by all," Ban said in a message broadcast on local radio.

"The way these elections are conducted will be decisive in setting the tone for how your society develops in the future," the UN secretary general said.

"The eyes of the world are upon you. I call on all candidates and their supporters to accept the results in a peaceful manner."

Voters go to the polls on Monday to elect the successor to Xanana Gusmao, with Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta, a Nobel peace laureate, considered to be a strong contender.

The powerful Fretilin party chairman, Fransisco Guterres, and Fernando "Lasama" De Araujo, who chairs the opposition Democrat Party, are also considered to be viable candidates. Gusmao is not seeking re-election.

At least 32 people have already been injured in clashes this week in and around the capital Dili, although most of the two-week presidential campaign was peaceful, the UN said.

Violence has pulsed through the fledgling state since it gained independence in 2002 after a period of UN stewardship. Indonesia previously occupied the former Portuguese colony for a turbulent 24 years.

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