Oxfam International participated in the East Timor Elections for a Constituent Assembly with Official Observers from Oxfam Hong Kong, Oxfam GB and Oxfam Community Aid Abroad (Oxfam Australia.)
The Oxfam International Delegation divided into two groups that monitored sites in Bobonaro district.
One team was located at Tapo polling centre in Bobonaro subdistrict and also visited Bobonaro town polling centre. The other team was located at Memo polling centre in Maliana subdistrict, also visiting Tonobibi polling centre in the same subdistrict. Both teams also visited Maliana town and Balibo town polling centres at various times during the day.
Oxfam International congratulates the UN, the IEC and the parties on an overwhelmingly successful ballot. Our experience was consistent with that of other Observers - which the Election was run without incident, bias, intimidation or serious operational deficiencies.
On the basis of our observations prior to the ballot and on the day, the election was both free and fair.
Oxfam International has no material reason to believe otherwise. We believe there is evidence that the Statement of National Unity, combined with tight election procedures notably the cooling off period and restrictions around campaigning outside the polling stations were significant factors.
Overall the election was run in a professional and effective manner. However for future learning coming out of this election we did note some issues of efficiency which should be addressed in future.
In particular the late opening of one station and very slow processing in another would have been a problem if there had been political tension. The calm and positive atmosphere meant that voters tolerated this with good humour and patience.
We did note some minor inconsistencies of the voting procedures. Two areas that should be noted are: firstly, the party agents located in a position where they were the first point to offer assistance to voters and secondly, the handling of people who were voting outside their nominated district. These inconsistencies were not of a material nature.
In most instances the Electoral staff exercised an appropriate level of support for voters, (i.e. frail, infirm or confused people who needed guidance.) Given the timeframe we felt that the local Electoral staff had been well trained they were considerate and seemed confident in doing their job. We recommend that senior electoral staff have the necessary language skills to provide adequate supervision.
Jeremy Hobbs, Executive Director Oxfam Community Aid Abroad
Keryn Clark, East Timor Program Manager, Oxfam Community Aid Abroad.
Solange Rosa, Advocacy Program Officer, Oxfam Community Aid Abroad
Wai Fong Chan, Policy Director, Oxfam Hong Kong
Jose Marcelino Cabral Belo, Advocacy Program, Assistant, Oxfam Community Aid Abroad
John Whitaker, Deputy Director , Oxfam Great Britain
Caroline Green, Media Officer, Oxfam Community Aid Abroad