06/28/2007, 00.00
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No unrest expected on the eve of parliamentary elections

United Nations police uses tear gas against some demonstrators but the situation on the eve of the election is generally quiet and peaceful. There is much expectation to see former President Gusmão’s new party will fare. Ruling Fretilin is expected to lose after its fortunes began declining last year.

Dili (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The first day after the formal end of East Timor’s parliamentary campaign has been marred by some disturbances. Today in Manatuto near the capital, United Nations police used tear gas to break up gatherings of supporters of different parties who were throwing stones at each other. However, the authorities remain confident that Saturday’s elections will be peaceful.

Yesterday, the last day of campaigning, ended with three of the 14 parties fielding candidates parading in the streets of the capital.

About 548,000 of East Timor's nearly 1 million people are registered to take part in the June 30 elections, which analysts say are likely to deal a severe blow to the ruling Fretilin party.

The Conselho Nacional de Reconstrução do Timor (National Congress for the Reconstruction of East Timor or CNRT) headed by outgoing President Xanana Gusmão is expected to become the largest block in Parliament, but no party is expected to win an overall majority, meaning the posts of prime minister and other key positions in the government would be subject to negotiation among the parties.

Fretilin was in power a year ago when factional fighting between police and army forces killed 37, drove 155,000 from their homes, and led to the deployment of an international peacekeeping force.

Since then the young nations has suffered on-and-off unrest. For example two weeks ago Gusmão’s supporters were shot dead at a rally.

Still the election campaign has generally been peaceful.

Despite East Timor's sizable offshore oil and gas deposits, nearly half of its work force is unemployed, about 60 per cent of all children under five are malnourished and the average income is less than a dollar a day.

East Timor was an Indonesian province for 24 years until it voted for independence in an UN-sponsored referendum in 1999,

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