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|Wednesday, November 29, 2000, updated at 11:36(GMT+8)|
UN Hopes to See Independent East Timor in 2001The chief UN administrator in East Timor said here Tuesday that the territory should become independent next year, but will need UN protection and financial support long after its independence.
The statement came as Sergio Vieira de Mello was speaking at an open UN Security Council meeting.
He said that barely after 12 months since the UN took over East Timor after it was laid waste by militia opposed to a break from Indonesia, "we are now well advanced on the transition to independence."
A general election would be held, "most likely in the middle of next year," for an assembly to draft a new constitution, he said.
The transitional cabinet, set up in July, will start drafting regulations for the registration of political parties this week or next, he said.
The United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) should be able to transfer power to a legitimately elected government in 2001, he said.
"But there is much more to transition than handing over political power," he said.
Australia is by far the largest contributor to the UNTAET, with 1,580 of the 7,710 troops currently deployed by the United Nations in East Timor. The force also includes 1,420 civilian policemen and 167 military observers.
"The objective of having a fully trained first battalion of the defense force in place by late 2001 is now well on track," he said.
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