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Cablegate: Fretilin, Cnrt Lead As Parliamentary Election Count

VZCZCXRO0859
OO RUEHPB
DE RUEHDT #0247/01 1831046
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O P 021046Z JUL 07
FM AMEMBASSY DILI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3606
INFO RUCNDT/USMISSION USUN NEW YORK PRIORITY 0986
RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE
RHEHAAA/NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL WASHINGTON DC
RHHMUNA/USPACOM HONOLULU HI
RUEHBY/AMEMBASSY CANBERRA PRIORITY 1044
RUEHLI/AMEMBASSY LISBON PRIORITY 0947
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON PRIORITY 0726
RUEHKO/AMEMBASSY TOKYO PRIORITY 0780
RUEHWL/AMEMBASSY WELLINGTON PRIORITY 0868
RUEHBR/AMEMBASSY BRASILIA PRIORITY 0581
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RUEHROV/AMEMBASSY VATICAN PRIORITY 0181
RUEHDT/AMEMBASSY DILI 2980

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 03 DILI 000247

SIPDIS

SENSITIVE

DEPT FOR EAP/MTS, DRL, IO
USUN RICHARD MCCURRY
SIPDIS

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM TT
SUBJECT: FRETILIN, CNRT LEAD AS PARLIAMENTARY ELECTION COUNT
CONTINUES

DILI 00000247 001.2 OF 003


1. (SBU) Summary: East Timor's parliamentary elections went
remarkably smoothly despite last minute logistical challenges
brought on by an unseasonable period of heavy rains in the days
leading up the June 30 poll. International observers, including
US mission teams present in almost all districts, have so far
evaluated the poll as free and fair. Initial delays in the
counting, now taking place at district counting centers, have
mostly been overcome and close to 40 percent of the count was
complete as of late afternoon on July 2. Initial results show
the ruling FRETILIN party leading, but with a percentage well
shy of a majority. The National Congress for Timorese
Reconstruction (CNRT) is in second place and appears to be well
positioned to lead an opposition party coalition comprising a
clear majority. Despite the smooth sailing, some complaints and
questions regarding possibly fraudulent observer batches have
slightly marred the process and point to possible future
challenges of the legitimacy of the results, particularly by
FRETILIN. End summary.

Smooth voting process
---------------------

2. (U) East Timor's parliamentary elections went remarkably
smoothly despite last minute logistical challenges brought on by
an unseasonable period of heavy rains in the days leading up the
June 30 poll. According to the Technical Secretariat for
Election Administration (STAE), 50 locations required final
delivery of election materials by horse and porter as a result
of the rains. However, in the end, only five polling stations,
in Viqueque and Manufahi districts, received materials late and
delayed their opening by several hours as a result. US mission
observers, who monitored the elections in all but two of East
Timor's 13 districts, in general found that the process went
very smoothly on election day. Other international missions,
which deployed close to 500 observers nationwide, have likewise
pronounced the June 30 poll as free and fair as well as
proceeding in a very orderly and calm manner. Several minor
incidents were reported over the course of the day, such as a
fight in Viqueque that broke out when a would-be voter presented
the voting card of a person known to be deceased. However, such
incidents were rare and in all cases effectively dealt with by
police and polling officials on the scene.

Delays and hiccups as counting underway
---------------------------------------

3. (U) The transport of uncounted ballots from the polling
centers to district counting centers also went smoothly
according to all reports, despite worries that this part of the
process would represent the greatest vulnerability to fraud.
The polling was well-scrutinized by almost 500 observers from
international groups including the UNDP, IRI, NDI, the Carter
Center, the European Union, the Japanese Government, and CPLP,
the organization of Portuguese speaking-countries. Our
observers participated in long, festive, well monitored and
secure convoys that wound their ways to district capitals
collecting ballots from multiple polling centers along the way.
However, once at the counting centers, the initial processing of
the ballots, required in order to pool each districts votes
before any counting could begin, was a laborious process, in
most places stretching into the next day and leading to delays
in counting. Further delays and controversies arose at some
counting centers regarding access for political party agents to
monitor the process.

5. (SBU) The counting center in Dili was particularly noisy on
the evening of June 30 as a group of FRETILIN "observers" -
including well-known national party figures and Members of
Parliament - complained that boxes were being opened without
their party agents present. According to our current
information, one of their agents was in fact present, but others
were at the entrance waiting to get in. The FRETILIN party
agents are reportedly now filing a complaint regarding the boxes
opened during this period and several of them walked out of the
count this morning in protest of the boxes being included in

DILI 00000247 002.2 OF 003


ongoing counting. Meanwhile, questions have been raised
regarding the observer badges held by the original complainants,
which appear to either be fraudulent or illegally issued by
STAE. Similar badges were discovered by observers throughout
the eastern district of Lautem on election day. Overall, while
not so far seriously undermining the process, these developments
raise the specter of FRETILIN continuing to challenge the
process and possibly rejecting as illegitimate the outcome.

Initial results show FRETILIN leading, but CNRT strong
--------------------------------------------- ---------

6. (U) With just under 40 percent of the count complete, the
current results are as follows, with first round results from
each party's candidate in the April 2007 first round of the
presidential race in parentheses for comparison:

-- The ruling FRETILIN party in first place with 32.1% (27.9%)

-- Former President Xanana Gusmao's National Congress for
Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT) coming in second with 22.3%
(21.8%)

-- The coalition of the Social Democratic Association of Timor
and the Social Democratic Party (ASDT/PSD) in third with 15.6%
(23%)

-- The Democratic Party (PD) in fourth with 11.3% (19.2%)

-- The coalition of KOTA and PPT in a distant fifth with 4.1%
(3.7%)

7. (U) However, it should be noted that the status of results
varies significantly from district to district, and the eastern
districts where FRETILIN is strongest also produced the fastest
results. Thus, while these figures provide a sense of the
trend, significant changes are likely to still occur,
particularly in the FRETILIN and CNRT numbers, with the former
possibly going down, and the latter increasing. In particular,
the Dili count has been very slow, starting only on July 2; with
its largest voting bloc of any district in the country, it
appears to be heavily favoring CNRT so far, but less than 10
percent is included in the current national tally. However, the
overall picture of FRETILIN, CNRT, ASDT/PSD, and PD competing
for most of the votes is expected to hold in all districts. The
only exception is the KOTA/PPT coalition which appears set to be
one of the top vote getters in Ainaro district. KOTA/PPT is
also the only party in addition to the top four that appears set
to surpass the three percent threshold to gain admission to
parliamentary representation, leaving the strong likelihood that
9 of the 14 competing parties will not be represented in
parliament.

8. (U) Both PD and the ASDT/PSD coalition have taken a hit in
comparison with their candidates' support in the presidential
race, despite their solid western bases. PD, only recently
considered the strongest of the opposition parties, has in
particular seen a surprising drop off compared to its nearly 20
percent pull in the first round presidential race. This can
mostly be explained by the "PD Xananista" phenomenon, that is,
the large number of party members who, while retaining long-term
allegiance to the party, opted to vote for Xanana Gusmao's CNRT.


9. (SBU) Comment: There is still a chance for counting to veer
off course, but in general we expect it to continue relatively
smoothly. However, as results start to crystallize the
environment is likely to get more heated. Most international
observer missions, while citing the success of the process so
far, caveat that evaluation with the question of whether party
leaders and their grassroots supporters will accept the results,
with the ruling FRETILIN party of greatest concern. We will
continue to track results and the potential for problematic
reactions closely. Then come the challenges of forming a
coalition government and executing a peaceful, efficient

DILI 00000247 003.2 OF 003


transfer of power. End comment.
KLEMM

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