A Timorese triumph

After more than 400 years of foreign occupation and domination, East Timor is getting a taste of freedom and self-rule. On August 30 the people of this long-beleaguered island—the only predominantly Christian region in the Indonesian archipelago—joyfully waited in long lines in the hot sun to select an 88-member assembly that will write the new nation’s constitution and become its first parliament. (The first presidential election is planned for early next year.) Although 16 political parties were in contention on the assembly ballot, anticipated clashes did not occur; the voting was without incident.

Voter turnout was estimated at 93 percent. (By comparison, voter turnout in the close U.S. election of 2000 was about 51.2 percent—a bit better than in 1996, but nothing to brag about.)


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