Timor-Leste: UN official predicts peaceful poll, need for coalition

The head of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) today voiced optimism that upcoming parliamentary elections there will be as peaceful as the recent presidential ballot, and predicted the possible need for a coalition government.

"They went much better than any one of us could have expected," UNMIT chief Atul Khare told reporters in New York today, referring to the two rounds of the presidential election in April and May, which led to the swearing in of President José Ramos-Horta just weeks ago.

The biggest challenge following the upcoming parliamentary elections, Mr. Khare said, would be the process of forming a government in the country.

"It is abundantly clear to me that with 14 political parties in the fray, possibilities of forming a coalition government would have to be examined very carefully. It appears as practically unlikely that that any political party would get a clear majority," he stated.

He pointed to the need to strengthen the security sector, taking into consideration of the future role of the army and police. Justice, governance and development will also require attention, he said.

"We trust that the new government, the new leaders, would be in a position to address these challenges, supported by the United Nations, as they have been over the past several years," Mr. Khare said.

He said agreements recently signed by the parties will facilitate the upcoming polls.

The Political Party Accord covers basic principles of governance after the elections, committing all parties to a constructive and inclusive democratic process for the new Government and opposition.

The Code of Conduct signed by all political parties commits them, their candidates, their representatives and supporters to accept the results, or to challenge them only in competent courts, and to campaign positively through programmes of action not personal criticism of other candidates.

Mr. Khare said the Accord "bodes well for [the] development of a genuine multi-party, liberal democracy" in Timor-Leste.

The UN Mission, deployed following an outbreak of deadly violence last year, is helping with all aspects of the 2007 electoral processes, including technical and logistical support, electoral policy advice and verification.