Timor-Leste

Recent Timor-Leste election was 'free and fair' and reflected the will of voters: UN

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This month's poll in Timor-Leste, the first in the country since gaining independence from Indonesia in 2002, may not have been perfect but it was "free and fair" and reflected the will of the voters, the United Nations said today, adding that it was a significant achievement for the tiny nation.

In accordance with the Electoral Law, all candidates had the opportunity to address any grievances through the existing electoral and judicial mechanisms rather than taking them to the streets, which also reflects well on public confidence in the national capacity to handle disputes peacefully, the UN Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) said in a press statement.

"UNMIT recognizes that, while the first round of elections was not perfect, the consensus assessment was that they were free and fair, reflecting the will of the voters. In addition, considering that these are the first national elections which the Timorese authorities have ever conducted, they should be seen as a significant achievement," it stated.

"UNMIT will continue to encourage calm, resolution of complaints through legal means, and respect for the outcome of the elections as announced by the national electoral authorities."

The UN's statement came in response to the Sixth Report of the Electoral Certification Team, an independent body appointed by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to assess whether the electoral process for this year's presidential and parliamentary elections are proceeding in a satisfactory manner.

This preliminary report indicates areas where additional improvements are still required, an issue that UNMIT has also raised with the authorities on several occasions and something it said it will continue to do.

The UN has praised the non-violent nature of the 9 April voting and looks ahead to a similar response to next month's run-off presidential poll on 9 May.