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Solidarity Observer Mission for East Timor (SOMET)

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: 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.

Election Day, June 30. Photo: Martine Perret/UNMIT  

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 week.

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 independence development.

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 international soldiers.
  • 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 required.
  • 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 angry voter.
  • 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


see also Timor Votes in 2007

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