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UN Envoy To Timor-Leste Chairs Election Meeting

UN Special Representative To Timor-Leste Chairs Election Meeting

New York, Aug 17 2006 3:00PM

As a first step toward helping Timor-Leste hold free and fair elections next year, the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in that country today convened a meeting of the major political parties to negotiate a new law that would govern those elections.

Politicians representing 17 parties discussed two competing drafts, one by the ruling Fretilin party and the other by members of opposition parties. An electoral adviser from the UN Development Programme (UNDP><"http://content.undp.org/go/newsroom/">UNDP) offered an analysis of the proposals. Prime Minister José Ramos-Horta, who also attended the meeting, said he would study both drafts.

“This was an extremely important exercise in preparation for free, fair and credible elections next year,” said the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Timor-Leste, Sukehiro Hasegawa, who noted that he had already seen a movement toward consensus among the political parties. “This is democracy at work.”

The tiny South-East Asian nation is still recovering from a wave of violence earlier this year. Dozens were killed and 155,000 people forced to flee their homes after clashes broke out when the government dismissed some 600 soldiers who had gone on strike.

In a report last week, Secretary-General Kofi Annan urged the UN Security Council to establish a new mission in Timor-Leste to help rebuild institutions, promote national reconciliation and assist in next year’s elections. He also proposed a UN police force of more than 1,600 that would, among other activities, provide security during the voting.

At today’s meeting, Mr. Hasegawa noted that the Secretary-General had also requested a team of electoral advisors and specialists. He added that the UN would be prepared, if requested by Timor-Leste’s Government, to send a high-level team to certify each step of the electoral process.

“The international community is committed to assisting in further strengthening the democratic foundations of Timor-Leste and believes that jointly, we can make the 2007 elections a success,” said Mr. AHasegawa.

Ends

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