Solidarity Observer Mission for East Timor
HAK Association building Avenida Gov. Serpa Rosa,
Farol, Dili, Timor-Leste
Contact: Dili: Jill Sternberg or Santina Soares +670-331-3324 or
+670-734-2535 or +670 727 9574; email: email@example.com Bronwen Thomas
(media liaison) +670 734 9979
International: John M. Miller, +1-718-596-7668; +1-917-690-4391;
SOMET Congratulates the People of Timor-Leste on
Parliamentary Election as Observers Monitor Counting
For Immediate Release: 4 July 2007
Last Saturday’s parliamentary election in Timor-Leste was largely
free, fair and peaceful, according to preliminary conclusions by the
international Solidarity Observer Mission for East Timor (SOMET).
“Despite some minor problems, our observers report that East
Timorese voters went to the polls in large numbers to peacefully
exercise their right to vote,” said Jill Sternberg, the Dili based
co-coordinator of SOMET.
June 30. Photo:
The SOMET team dispatched 48 accredited, nonpartisan observers to
all thirteen districts of the country.
Observers from ten different countries, including Timor-Leste,
have been monitoring the entire electoral process by attending
campaign events, meeting with party leaders, observing the voting
process on election day and now observing the counting and
tabulation process. SOMET Observers will continue to be stationed in
district centers as all votes are counted. Complete results are not
expected until later this week, and will likely be certified next
SOMET congratulates the people of Timor-Leste for overcoming
significant obstacles to carry out their first Parliamentary
election. Timor-Leste organized it’s own national elections for the
first time this year and it marks a significant step in their post
The election was carried out largely without violence to deliver
a result that will reflect the will of the voters. Most polling
staff observed performed ably, impartially and conscientiously both
on election day and during the long process of counting. Voters were
patient and committed, and nearly all knew how to participate in
this free and fair democratic election.
“Given recent turbulence which shook the confidence of many
Timorese in their new state, the success of this election is a
significant accomplishment.” says Jill Sternberg.
“The East Timorese, who for so long had been denied a democratic
voice, have come out in strength and confidence to choose their
leaders. We congratulate the voters and the electoral staff for this
significant step in nation building”.
Timor-Leste will have future elections, including local elections
scheduled to take place in 2008. SOMET will issue a report
highlighting areas that could be improved. Some of its most
important observations include:
- Timorese voters and partisans were largely peaceful and
responsible in their behaviour. International and Timorese
police generally performed well, although SOMET observed some
instances of inappropriate deployment of police and
- SOMET remains concerned that the change of location for
counting ballots from polling station to district centers
reduces the transparency of the process and severely limits the
ability of people to review the results, lessening confidence
that they reflect the will of their fellow citizens. SOMET urges
a return to polling center counting for future elections. The
new counting process had a number of design flaws and election
staff had not been adequately trained on it, resulting in delays
and confusion. In addition, restrictions on the numbers of party
agents and observers in the counting centers made it impossible
for them to monitor the entire counting process, resulting in
protests, with relaxation of the limitations in some districts.
- SOMET observers witnessed polling stations where political
party and candidate agents were too numerous, or appeared to try
to influence voters or intervene in the electoral process.
Polling Center staff often had trouble dissuading agents from
engaging in inappropriate actions.
- In some polling centers and district tabulation centers,
closing and counting processes deviated from the regulations. It
seems the standards are unclear and that more training is
- Measures to guard against double-voting were often not
followed, especially checking a voter’s hands for ink before
allowing them to vote. There have been reliable reports of a few
occurrences of people attempting to vote more than once.
- SOMET did observe a few brief disruptions to voting, caused
by both occasional shortages of materials and in one incident an
- SOMET was pleased that mobile voting stations allowed for
hospitalized and imprisoned citizens to vote in this election.
The Constitution of Timor-Leste states that all citizens 17
years and older have the right to vote. Unfortunately, citizens
abroad, including those serving the government, are still not
able to exercise in this right.
- SOMET repeats its recommendation that future elections
should be administered by an independent agency that is not
under the jurisdiction of any government ministry.
SOMET will soon issue a full report on the 2007 Parliamentary
election focusing on voter education, campaigning, voting and
counting, as well as implementation of the results. Previous SOMET
reports from each round of the Presidential election are available
online in English and Tetun at
SOMET's teams consist of international observers and trained
national observers drawn from seven co-operating groups within
Timor-Leste. It is a grassroots project of the U.S.-based East Timor
and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN), Free East Timor
Foundation (VOT ) in the Netherlands, Initiatives for International
Dialogue (IID) and Asia Pacific Solidarity Coalition (APSOC) in the
Philippines and the World Forum for Democratization in Asia (WFDA).
SOMET was formed at the invitation of civil society organizations
in Timor-Leste to support a transparent, free and fair election
process. SOMET has partnered with nonpartisan East Timorese
observers including HAK Association, Timor-Leste NGO Forum, La’o
Hamutuk, FOKUPERS, KSI, Bibi Bulak and Concern Worldwide.
Results from Timor-Leste's Electoral Commission
Timor Votes in 2007
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