Timor-Leste: UN bolsters electoral security after deadly shootings
The first incident took place one hour after a campaign rally for the National Congress for Reconstruction of Timor-Leste (CNRT) concluded. Following altercations between CNRT supporters and their opponents, one man was shot dead in a marketplace. UN Police (UNPOL) responded quickly and used tear gas and fired warning shots to disperse the crowd.
According to the UN mission, known as UNMIT, the man is believed to have been shot by an off-duty officer of the National Police of Timor-Leste (PNTL) and a search is under way to apprehend the person responsible.
The second deadly shooting occurred when a group of CNRT supporters, accompanied by former President Xanana Gusmão who heads the party, returned the body of the deceased man to his hometown of Ossu. Initial reports said that PNTL members fired shots to control a crowd and a 24-year-old man was killed while a 16-year-old was injured.
“We are treating both shootings seriously,” said Eric Tan, UNMIT’s acting head, adding that the motivation for the first killing is unknown. Neither incident appears to have targeted Mr. Gusmão, he noted.
Yesterday, UNMIT representatives were present at a meeting convened by President José Ramos-Horta, with Government authorities, the International Stabilization Force (ISF) and the Timor-Leste Defence Force (F-FDTL).
The ISF has deployed a platoon to Viqueque while the UN will reinforce its security plan ahead of parliamentary elections later this month.
The Government also stressed that it will not tolerate retaliation for the shootings, and have reiterated their call for political supporters to remain calm, Mr. Tan said.
All 16 parties participating in this month’s election have signed a code of conduct that aims to foster a free and fair electoral process.
Mr. Ramos-Horta was sworn in late last month following two rounds of elections in April and May, beating out seven other candidates vying to lead the country, which the UN ushered to independence in 2002.