UN supports historic election in Timor-Leste
UNMIT Special Representative of the Secretary General (SRSG) Atul Khare has emphasized the need to uphold the common goal of inclusiveness in the coming Presidential election saying the exercise "must have a restorative and unifying impact and must not on any account lead to divisiveness."
Quoting Rule 15 of the Code of Conduct signed by all presidential candidates, the SRSG said the manifestations of this goal is embodied in "...a language that ensures a peaceful environment, free of defamation, non-threatening, not encouraging violence, and without personal criticism towards persons or a group of people, notably other candidates and their supporters."
Speaking on Thursday, 29 March 2007 at the weekly press conference convened by UNMIT Office of Public Information, the SRSG paid "direct" tribute to the people of Timor-Leste and their authorities - assisted by the international community - through the United Nations for their efforts in facilitating the polls, which kicks off on 9 April 2007 with the conduct of the Presidential election that has attracted eight candidates, including a female politician.
Addressing the same conference, the DSRSG and UNDP Resident Representative Finn Reske-Nielsen underscored the significance of this electoral process in the country's history, noting that unlike the previous elections, the responsibility for conducting the Presidential and Parliamentary election in 2007 rests with the state institutions of Timor-Leste, "principally STAE in the Ministry of State Administration and the National Electoral Commission, the CNE." He stressed however, that through its top decision making organ of the Security Council, the UN had been mandated - through Security Council Resolution 1704 - to provide extensive support to the electoral process "to ensure that the elections are indeed free and fair."
Fielding questions from journalists, the DSRSG explained that the United Nations has also been assisting the Government in drafting relevant legal provisions as recommended by the three-member Electoral Certification Team. He added however that some of the recommendations of the Certification Team pertained only to the Parliamentary elections. "I think there is enough time for the National Parliament to consider those provisions after the Presidential Elections," said DSRSG Finn Reske-Nielsen.
Meanwhile, 504 polling centers and 705 polling stations have been established across the country. "The 2007 Presidential election is the first national election since Timor-Leste gained its independence in 2002, and the first nationwide elections to be organized by the national election authorities," STAE Director Tomas Cabral said in a recent press release. "We welcome the assistance given by the international community and the advice of the UN Mission in Timor-Leste, but we are proud that these elections are the first we Timorese will stage ourselves," he stated.
Courtesy of the "integrated mission" concept, over 200 staff drawn from the UN fraternity in Timor-Leste have been deployed in the country to support the electoral process, which will target 522,933 registered voters, according to figures obtained from STAE. As part of its logistical support UNDP has provided 40 vehicles for transportation of election materials.