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The East Timor presidential election 2012
Timor-Leste Friendship Network Preliminary Statement - March 18, 2012
The Australia Timor-Leste Friendship Network and Deakin University's Centre for Citizenship, Development and Human Rights congratulates the people of Timor-Leste on a successful 2012 presidential election and the consolidation of the democratic process in Timor-Leste.
Based on reports from more than 50 AusTimorFN observers deployed across 12 of Timor-Leste's 13 districts, despite poor weather and a number of manageable technical problems, all preliminary reports indicate that the polling and counting processes which were implemented on 17 March 2012 substantially met internationally recognised standards for free and fair elections at the venues observed.
The 2012 elections are the second national polls to be Timor-Leste administration, with support from the United Nations Integrated Mission (UNMIT) in Timor-Leste being provided on a more limited scale than in 2007. UNMIT is due to conclude its operations at the end of 2012.
AusTimorFN Timor-Leste coordinator and CCDHR Director, Professor Damien Kingsbury, said Timor-Leste's Technical Secretariat for Electoral Administration (STAE) and National Elections Commission (CNE) had very largely performed in a professional and competent manner. STAE is responsible for running the elections and the CNE oversees the electoral process,
'All indications are that Timor-Leste is now very capable of running its own electoral process,' Professor Kingsbury said.
Unlike the elections of 2007, there were no reports of significant political or other violence or intimidation leading up to or on the day of the ballot. 'The elections have gone off in a very peaceful manner,' Professor Kingsbury said. 'The atmosphere in the polling stations attended by AusTimorFN volunteer observers was peaceful and positive, with a clear commitment on the part of both electoral staff and voters to an orderly and successful process.'
AusTimorFN observers did note a number of technical problems with the election process, the main ones of which were shortages of ballot papers in a small number of polling stations; some quality issues with indelible ink used to mark voters; some concerns with the requirement faced by some voters to travel at their own expense to their place of registration in order to vote; and some aspects of the counting process which gave rise to disputation.
'The shortage of ballot papers in some cases was due to underestimating the number of voters and due to spoiled ballot papers in transit due to poor weather conditions,' Professor Kingsbury said. 'Even though STAE attempted to get fresh ballot papers to the few affected polling stations, in a couple of cases road conditions and rising rivers impeded their timely delivery.'
AusTimorFN observers noted a number of technical infractions of the ballot process. However, these infractions were relatively few and were not regarded as compromising the integrity of the vote in any of the polling stations observed. 'These infractions reflected a desire to ensure that people could vote, but sometimes by stepping over the bounds of what is formally allowed by STAE.'
There was also a report of confusion with the counting of votes, which was undertaken in local voting centres. This was due to using numbers rather than candidates' names, with number four on the list, Francisco Xavier do Amaral, being removed from numbering due to his prior death. This then moved the numbering of the following eight candidates by one, resulting in confusion in counting. This problem was, however, resolved. AusTimorFN wishes to again confirm that the 2012 Timor-Leste elections were a demonstrable success for the electoral administration and democratic process in Timor-Leste. AusTimorFN looks forward to its observers attending the expected second presidential round in mid-April, as well as the parliamentary elections in late June.
For further information, please contact:
Damien Kingsbury +6707266770, +61439638834 or AusTimorFN's electoral expert, Michael Maley, on +670759850.
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