|Subject: AFP: ETimor re-checks votes
ETimor re-checks votes
16 April 2007
DILI - East Timor officials have said they have found more discrepancies in last week's presidential election while stressing the poll's outcome will remain unchanged.
Some votes counted in the poll, the first since the impoverished nation gained its independence in 2002, would be re-checked amid concerns of irregularities, they said.
"This afternoon, we will reopen 42 ballot boxes because the documents (inside) were incomplete," National Election Commission spokesman Martinho Gusmao told reporters.
Voter turnout was high for last Monday's election and East Timorese hope that concerns about the credibility of the poll will not plunge the tiny nation back into turmoil and bloodshed.
In a closely fought race, the ruling Fretilin party's Francisco Guterres and Nobel Peace laureate Jose Ramos-Horta emerged to run again after neither gained more than 50 percent of the vote.
Gusmao said the votes concerned were lodged in seven districts, including the capital Dili, and were originally counted in Monday's poll.
But he said fears now existed that some of them had not been properly filled in. He declined to specify the problem or the number of votes involved.
Gusmao also said the election commission had lodged legal action seeking to re-examine votes placed in another 26 ballot boxes.
"The CNE (national election commission) is submitting a request to the court of appeal to be allowed to see again 26 ballot boxes because of an inconsistency in data," he said, without saying what the inconsistency was.
Gusmao said the court would determine whether there were grounds for a re-check.
He stressed the checks on votes in both sets of boxes would not affect the outcome of Monday's election, which would be decided in the runoff vote on May 8.
"The checks on those data do not mean that (they) would change the existing preliminary results," he said.
The checks come after it emerged on Saturday that a district with 100,000 eligible voters had produced three times as many votes. The discrepancy was later put down to a technical error.
Some candidates have also alleged intimidation at booths on polling day, and have also demanded a re-count.
There had been fears that violence would mar the vote in East Timor, where foreign peacekeepers have been on the streets for nearly a year after gang violence left 37 people dead and sent 150,000 more fleeing their homes.