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Cablegate: East Timor Election Hiccups Persist - Corrected Copy,

VZCZCXRO8234
PP RUEHPB
DE RUEHDT #0093/01 0661155
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 071155Z MAR 07
FM AMEMBASSY DILI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3337
INFO RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK 0840
RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 0907
RUEHLI/AMEMBASSY LISBON PRIORITY 0800
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0615
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 0654
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PRIORITY 0734
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 0467
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN 0052
RUEHDT/AMEMBASSY DILI 2684

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 DILI 000093

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS, DRL, IO
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM UN TT
SUBJECT: EAST TIMOR ELECTION HICCUPS PERSIST - CORRECTED COPY,
ADDITIONAL TEXT

DILI 00000093 001.2 OF 002


This cable is a corrected version of and replaces Dili 090

1. (SBU) Summary: In a recent briefing for the Embassy, USAID
contractors and grantees working with East Timor's electoral
process expressed an array of concerns about the election
process, especially over the ineffective role of UN advisors to
the National Electoral Commission (CNE) and the State Technical
Administration for Elections (STAE), delays in formulizing
regulations necessary for election education programs to
commence, and the lack of contingency plans to ensure
transparent voting in the case security problems force a
postponement for specific voting sites. The UN's independent
Election Certification Team issued its fourth report on February
16. The report also reflects concerns about the election,
noting only limited progress made towards its previous
recommendations. Certification of the presidential elections
therefore appears to be at risk. The Certification Team also
expressed continued concerns regarding election security. With
the additional deterioration of security seen over the last week
exacerbating both security concerns and logistical delays, the
possibility exists that a delay in the presidential election
date could result, although there has been no formal suggestion
of this yet. End summary.

2. (SBU) Emboffs met with representatives from IFES, the
International Republican Institute (IRI), and the National
Democratic Institute (NDI) on March 2 to discuss East Timor's
upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections. IFES and NDI
representatives told us that some of the more serious problems
with the elections revolved around what they described as
inadequate UN advisors to the National Election Commission (CNE)
and Technical Secretariat for Election Administration (STAE).
Whereas United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT)
is supposed to have seven advisors with the CNE, in reality only
one is present. IFES raised concerns about the quality and
experience level of these advisors, bluntly saying that IFES
would not have hired them, while NDI recounted comments by some
East Timorese to the effect of "since the one [Portuguese]
advisor is not doing anything, she might as well go home."
UNMIT failed to respond to IFES requests as early as December
2006 for clarification on what assistance was needed, so in
recent weeks IFES has worked directly with the East Timorese
electoral institutions to address immediate gaps; IFES will
provide two advisors to CNE to help with candidate registration
and election complaints, and in late March will add a third
advisor at the STAE to help with adjudication issues. (Note:
Another issue impacting logistical preparations is that as a
result of the current security situation (septels) UN volunteers
(UNVs) working in the districts have had their movement limited
to the towns in which they are resident and have not been able
to move about the districts in recent weeks. The UNVs in Same
area were pulled back to Dili and discussion is underway to send
them back out again. End note.)

3. (SBU) The IFES representative told us that delays in
formulating critical regulations were causing delays in the
voter education process, a problem exacerbated by the tight
timeline for voter registration. This tight timeline also
extends to dispute resolution; the regulations allow only 24 to
48 hours for issues to be resolved. IFES has compiled, but has
not yet delivered to East Timorese election authorities, a list
of the most pressing points, including six suggested amendments
to the National Parliament Electoral Law to clarify these
outstanding issues such as procedures for vote counting,
procedures for sealing ballot boxes, expanding the definition of
electoral propaganda to include voice broadcasts (the current
laws limit the definition to print media), and the methods to be
employed to ensure that voters are unable to vote more than
once. IFES also raised voter registration as a serious problem,
since there will be little, if any, time allowed for voters to
determine whether they have in fact been registered, and no
record kept of who has already voted. NDI and IFES
representatives said that this could be a major obstacle to
resolving challenges to the election. The STAE is apparently
selectively addressing some of these concerns.


DILI 00000093 002.2 OF 002


4. (SBU) When asked about election security, IRI's
representative indicated that this was a common concern raised
by district or village level interlocutors, as well as by the
UN. The IFES and NDI representatives recounted anecdotal
reports of parties being forcibly prevented from conducting
election rallies or raising their party flags in opponent
strongholds, a common problem in previous elections as well.
The representatives concurred that these problems were likely to
worsen for the parliamentary election. NDI's representative
noted that there was a distinct possibility that hunger and
drought could negatively impact election security, and that
there were no regulations in place to ensure that voters who had
previously voted in another district could not vote a second
time in an area where security concerns forced a postponement
long enough for the indelible ink to wear off.

5. (U) The UN Election Certification Team`s fourth report,
issued on February 16, reflects many of the same concerns. The
team determined that since the major corrective steps
recommended in the third report have not been taken, the process
is still unsatisfactory. Specific mention was given to
outstanding changes to the legal framework, which the team deems
are required for the election to meet international standards,
as well as the need for emergency measures to bolster the STAE
and CNE, which the team concludes have not been provided with
sufficient time or resources to carry out their respective
tasks. The team further found that since the CNE has not been
able to establish its own secretariat or field staffing
structure, only a few election commissioners and international
advisors are essentially trying to handle an extremely high work
load. The team additionally raised questions about the
registration of internally displaced persons, of which there are
an estimated 30,000 remaining in Dili alone.

6. (SBU) Comment: The NGO representatives indicated a
possibility that the UN Electoral Certification team could
refuse to validate the elections. Embassy Dili shares these
concerns, and is working with USAID and the NGOs to coordinate
how best to raise these "must have" fixes with the appropriate
GOET officials. Emboffs will met with the relevant GOET
election authorities and again with the NGOs in coming weeks to
determine whether the GOET is making progress on resolving these
concerns. End comment.
GRAY

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