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As Timorese prepare to vote, Security Council appeals for peaceful elections

As Timorese prepare to vote, Security Council appeals for peaceful elections

United Nations Security Council members today expressed their full support for the Timor-Leste parliamentary elections to be held tomorrow and called on the country’s people to ensure that the polls are free, fair and peaceful.

The Council, in a press statement read out by its President, Ambassador Johan C. Verbeke of Belgium “called upon all parties in Timor-Leste to adhere to the principles of non-violence and to democratic and legal processes to ensure that these elections have a unifying impact and contribute to bringing the people of Timor-Leste together.”

The 15-member body called on the people of the small South-East Asian nation, which the UN helped to shepherd to independence in 2002, to “ensure that free, fair and peaceful parliamentary elections take place.”

The members also appealed to the population to respect the National Commission’s electoral Code of Conduct.

Underscoring the importance of the international community’s support in the country, the Council “welcomed the presence of domestic as well as international electoral observers in Timor-Leste for these elections.”

Voters will go to the polls to elect 65 members of Parliament to serve five-year terms.

Yesterday, the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste – known as UNMIT – began distributing ballot papers, with a total of 652,000 ballot papers to be distributed throughout the country and a reserve will be stored in all districts to deal with contingencies.

Also, in a video message yesterday, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on candidates and their supporters “to react to the results in a peaceful manner, and to raise any concerns they may have about the process through the appropriate legal channels.”

Recalling the successful presidential elections of April and May, he said that he “was moved by the graceful transfer of responsibility from the first President to his successor, through the freely expressed will of the people.”

In another development, the UN Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) has called for increased participation of women in politics.

The fund’s scheme, called Integrated Programme for Women in Politics and Decisions Making, also seeks to raise awareness of the status of Timorese women.

Workshops to draw attention to the electoral process were held last month bringing together experts from the European Union, the National Electoral Commission and the UNIFEM-backed observer group known as KOMEG, along with ten parties participating in the elections.

All of the women representatives endorsed a Women’s Political Platform signed on 28 May, which prioritizes such issues as economic advance and health care for women; justice and security; and media reporting on and for women.