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NZ Election Observers For East Timor

Goff Announces NZ Election Observers For East Timor


The Government will send four New Zealand observers to monitor East Timor’s constituent assembly elections set to take place on 30 August, Foreign Minister Phil Goff announced today.

“Observers Rick Barker MP, Dr Andrew Ladley, Father Gerard Burns and Tony Lynch, bring together diverse and extensive experience in East Timor and electoral matters.

“The election observer team will be based in Cova Lima District, where our peacekeepers are located. They will spend about 10 days in East Timor from 26 August.

"They will help promote free, fair and credible elections by monitoring and reporting on the conduct and outcome of the ballot, in which the East Timorese people will vote for an 88-member constituent assembly responsible for drafting and adopting East Timor’s constitution.

"The constitution comes into effect when East Timor achieves full independence, expected in the first half of next year.

“This will be the first time the people of East Timor have been able to vote freely and democratically for a representative national assembly. The elections represent an important step on the road to full independence under a democratic government. New Zealand wants to support that process,” Mr Goff said.

New Zealand’s East Timor election observer team is funded by the New Zealand Official Development Assistance (NZODA) programme. New Zealand is also helping to promote electoral democracy in East Timor in other ways.

An additional $250,000-worth of NZODA funding has gone towards election preparations including voter education campaigns and training East Timorese election workers, through the UN Development Programme.

“New Zealand peacekeepers and police in East Timor will help maintain a secure environment for the elections,” Mr Goff said.


Backround information on NZ election observers to East Timor

The elections will be conducted by the United Nations, which currently administers East Timor. Several hundred international observers are expected to monitor the ballot, being contested by 16 political parties.

More than 10,000 UN peacekeepers and police will provide security for the elections. Nearly all political parties contesting the election have undertaken to adhere to democratic, non-violent practices. Current indications are the elections will proceed relatively peacefully.

Team leader Rick Barker is Labour MP for Tukituki. He is the senior Government whip and has been in Parliament since 1993.

Dr Andrew Ladley is currently Coalition Manager in the Deputy Prime Minister’s office and held a senior UN Mission position in East Timor during the 1999 UN-sponsored popular consultation in which the East Timorese voted for independence from Indonesia.

Father Gerard Burns is Parish Priest at St Anne’s Catholic Church, Newtown, Wellington. He spent 10 weeks in East Timor as a Caritas solidarity volunteer during the lead-up to the UN sponsored popular consultation in 1999.

Tony Lynch is a senior Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade official. He was Deputy Head of Mission at the New Zealand Embassy in Jakarta from 1998 until last year and had responsibility for East Timor affairs.

Ends

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