|Photo by John M.
ETAN Volunteers Support Timor-Leste Groups Electoral Work
Dili, July 3, 2012 – Tomorrow is the last day of campaigning for
Timor-Leste’s Parliamentary Election. The vote will be held on
Saturday, July 7, and, by law, campaigning ceases for two full days
before voters go to the polls.
It’s been a noisy day in the office of
(“Walking Together,” Timor-Leste Institute for Development
Monitoring and Research), where an ETAN volunteer is preparing to
accompany one of the group's staff as she returns to her home
district to vote over the weekend, as well as to observe the
election in that district. La’o Hamutuk is on a main Dili
thoroughfare, and banner-covered trucks filled with chanting party
members and sympathizers, roaring motorcycle caravans, cars with
amplified music and loudspeaker campaign slogans, and police
vehicles with sirens blaring have passed by regularly throughout the
La’o Hamutuk offered
a briefing this morning for international media
and election observers, to provide background on key development and
other issues that the new government will face in the next five
years, Presenters had to stop speaking periodically, until a noisy
campaign parade had passed.
Conflict seems less on people’s minds than the real
issues of survival: employment, sustainable development, education, health
care, land rights. Whether and how the next government will move forward on
these fronts seem a far more immediate and substantial matters than whether
the elections will be marred by mayhem.
In addition to La’o Hamutuk, ETAN volunteers are assisting the
electoral work of two other local NGOs:
research and advocacy on the security sector) and
Asosiasaun HAK (Association for Law, Human Rights, Justice). Hailing
from Australia, France, Uganda and the U.S., the volunteers are
attending and reporting on campaign events, receiving briefings on
electoral monitoring from STAE (the Technical Secretariat for
Electoral Administration), and will join NGO staff as they observe
voting and counting throughout the country, bringing the particular
questions and objectives of each organization to the observation
From this observer’s perspective, it’s been a “quiet” campaign thus
far (notwithstanding the street noise!). While the public media
report how well-prepared the country’s police and security forces
are to confront and contain any conflict, the people of Timor-Leste
do not appear poised for violence. We are regularly reminded here
that the United Nations security force will be withdrawing from
Timor-Leste at the end of the year - if this election goes well,
that is, without significant conflict. Yet conflict seems less on
people’s minds than the real issues of survival: employment,
sustainable development, education, health care, land rights.
Whether and how the next government will move forward on these
fronts seem a far more immediate and substantial matters than
whether the elections will be marred by mayhem.
La’o Hamutuk reminded us this morning that an election is more than
the mechanics of voting, and democracy does not lie only in a free,
fare and transparent ballot. Rather, the election is the people’s
opportunity to choose the leaders who will determine the direction
the country takes over the next five years: whose leadership will –
or will not – respond to the Timorese people’s aspirations to vastly
improve their lives.
ETAN Volunteers Observe Timor-Leste
Parliamentary Election 2012 (observations and reflections)
Letters of Support:
H.E. President Dr.
José Ramos-Horta; H.E. Ambassador
flags urge votes for parties in July 7 parliamentary
election in Dili. Photos by John M. Miller/ETAN.
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