Next week’s landmark presidential election in Timor-Leste, the first in the tiny nation since gaining independence from Indonesia in 2002, is important not only for peace in the country but also for longer-term stability, senior United Nations officials said today, highlighting the world body’s support for the countrywide polls.
The Security Council also expressed its full support for the 9 April poll, stressing in a press statement that the elections are a “significant milestone” in the democratic process in the country, while also calling on all sides to avoid violence and ensure the vote is free and fair.
“Monday’s election is the first step in the electoral process that will see a newly elected president and parliament in place by the second half of this year. This will signify the continuance of the democratic development of State institutions within this country and it is these institutions that will facilitate democratic consolidation,” the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Timor-Leste Atul Khare told reporters.
Mr. Khare, who heads the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), said he was pleased about the absence of any serious incidents of violence or intimidation in the campaigning period so far, although expressed regret over several reported incidents. He said this shows the commitment of the Timorese to a peaceful democratic process.
UNMIT’s support for the polls includes a Candidate Resource Centre to support all eight presidential campaigns, which provides candidates with the use of computers and photocopy machines. In addition, all presidential candidates have received a $10,000 in-kind grant for the production of materials, such as flags, posters, banners and flyers.
“This election is an important step on the path to peace and stability in Timor Leste. The support provided for the electoral process through the Resource Centre reaffirms the commitment of the UN to ensuring the elections are run in a fair, credible and transparent manner,” said the UN’s Representative for Electoral Support, Finn Reske-Nielsen.
After the presidential polls, the Centre will become the Political Party Resource Centre based in the capital Dili, with three district branches established in Baucau, Maliana and Oecussi.
UNMIT is mandated through Security Council resolution 1704 to support all aspects of this year’s presidential and parliamentary electoral process, including providing technical and logistical support and electoral policy advice. The UN Development Programme (UNDP) is providing support and facilitation to both national and international observers to the polls, as well as other electoral assistance.
Speaking to reporters in New York, this month’s Security Council president welcomed the presence of the election observers, while also highlighting the need for continued international support for Timor-Leste.
“The members of the Security Council called upon all parties in Timor-Leste to adhere to the principles of non-violence and to democratic and legal processes to ensure that the upcoming presidential elections have a unifying impact and contribute to bringing the people of Timor-Leste together,” said Emyr Jones Parry, the Ambassador of the United Kingdom.
“They appealed to all Timorese parties to ensure that free, fair and peaceful elections take place and that the electoral Code of Conduct developed by the National Commission on Elections is respected.”