UNMIT Press Briefing Obrigado Barracks Midday- Tuesday 10 April 2007
Allison Cooper, Spokesperson: Good afternoon everybody. Thank you for coming to our press briefing. Not much from me this morning except there is a new statement here by the Secretary General of the United Nations following yesterday's presidential elections. Is in four language and I encourage you all to take a copy of it before you leave. This afternoon we will be hearing from our head of mission, Mr Atul Khare and the will be followed by Mr. Finn Reske-Nielsen. Thank you for coming.
SRSG Khare: Good afternoon, thank you very much for coming. I am delighted that the past 24 hours have been peaceful, as indeed have been the last weeks.
Voting in the Presidential elections proceeded without major incidents of violence or intimidation, which is already a very good result of these elections for Timor Leste.
Yesterday I visited several sites in Dili and also two regions.
First of all I went to Alor in Manufahi. When I arrived voting had been ongoing for two hours and almost a third of the registered voters had already cast their votes.
Thereafter I went to Dilor in Viqueque. Voter turnout was also very high midway through the morning and I was told that close to 50% of the registered voters had cast their votes by 10:30 in the morning in that remote location also.
Of course prior to that, earlier yesterday morning I had visited several sites including the areas which had see some troubles in the past and late February early March, such as Bairro Pité, Kampung Baru and had visited the camp of internal displaced persons in front of Hotel Timor.
From whatever I saw, in all these visits I sincerely believe that the attitude of the voters was positive, confident and excited.
The people of Timor Leste seemed to be embracing their own day at the polls.
As I said in the beginning I am pleased with the absence of violence. Of course I have been confident all along that the election would be peaceful and I would like to congratulate the people of Timor-Leste on their peaceful participation. I would like to thank UNPOL and the PNTL, the local police service who worked tirelessly around the clock, supported by ISF as needed to secure this good result.
In some ways the real challenge for the nation begins now. The democratic process commences with a vote but it is tested by the ability of the government and a strong constructive opposition to provide good governance for all.
I encourage all candidates and their supporters to accept the results of the elections to be announced by the authorities in the coming days and if they were legitimate shortcomings to challenge these results in the courts. Accepting results includes accepting defeat and using the defeat as an opportunity to form a strong opposition. This will be especially important for the parliamentary elections that are to follow.
I call upon the people of this country to continue their overwhelming commitment to democracy. The presidential candidates and their supporters went through the campaigning period without serious security incidents. More than half a million people went to the polls yesterday in a peaceful manner all this I believe, bodes well for the future of democracy in Timor-Leste.
As Allison just told you, the Secretary General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-moon has issued a message and a copy of that is available here in the pres conference. Mr Ban Ki-moon has reiterated to the people of Timor Leste that they do have the strong support of the international community.
At UNMIT, we look forward to working with the new President and later with the new parliament and government to delivering that support.
Once the elections are over we must, together with the new Government of this country, continue to address four key areas: firstly, the security sector, secondly the justice sector, thirdly good governance and finally development.
Making progress in these four areas will be a challenge that we will face together.
Progress in these four areas will strengthen the state institutions to become the living example of the core democratic values of inclusiveness, transparency, accountability and participation.
It is these values that will usher Timor into a true democratic consolidation.
Let me now hand you over to DSRSG Mr. Finn Reske-Nielsen who will provide you with more details about yesterday's elections.
DSRSG Finn Reske-Nielsen: Thank you very much, good afternoon everybody.
It is indeed very good to know that all of the people of Timor-Leste who wished to do so had an opportunity to vote yesterday. In fact we are only missing one polling center that is not yet confirmed yet that everybody who wanted to vote in fact was able to do so. So after the 500 polling centers 499 are confirmed, this is indeed the good news.
And today, the tabulation process is continuing in the district capitals and the results will be transmitted from the district capitals to the CNE headquarters for a national tabulation later in the week.
The retrieval of the ballot boxes and all other electoral materials from the field is still ongoing and this is a result of bad weather from a few locations. We have had some difficulties in Manatuto and Viqueque and this were purely due to bad weather.
I would like to take this opportunity to say that I am quiet impressed by the work that has been done so far by STAE and by the CNE in conducting this election and I think it is a clear sign of the growing capacity that's available in this country to run democratic elections.
The United Nations system in Timor-Leste has continue to provide a range of support to the national institutions and this is not just the support that has been provided by the mission over the past few days and in particular, logistical support using our helicopters to transport materials from Dili to the polling centers. But also as I mentioned the retrieval of the electoral materials back to district capitals and Dili this week. It is also this significant support that has been provided by the United Nations Development Program, UNDP, which has provided support in an integrated manner to the government. You are aware that UNDP has provided not just technical assistance, they have also been managing the candidates resource center, which was established several weeks ago and the UNDP has played a critical role in supporting both national and international observers and coordinating their deployment.
This support of course would continue through the week and we would also provide similar kinds of support should there be a second round or run off election for the presidency and we will of course also continue the support to the parliamentary election. Thank you.
Q: I was just wondering if something could have done about the quality of information that is available to us. I think there are some problems with information getting from the CNE and some journalists are [inaudible]. I would like to point out, I think it's probably a question for the candidates themselves but there has been considerable disinformation in the newspapers and candidates, or at least one candidate I suppose Fernando Lasama has complained that the story in today's Suara Timor Lorosae is completely false. For me the story on the front page of Timor Post is also extremely misleading because it gives the example of completed count in fact was taken at a very early count. And we have a contradiction between that figure and a rough figure given to us today by the CNE on what is happening in Dili so nobody really knows so here we are.
SRSG Khare: Thank you Jill. This is not really a question but I would certainly encourage the Timorese authorities in the right direction. I chose to say a few words because I personally strongly believe that an independent, impartial, well informed media acting as a critical oversight body is absolutely essential for the functioning of any democracy. Therefore we shall certainly take it up with the authorities concerned and assist them should assistance be required for development of their own capacities and also to implement fully the code of conduct for the media which I believe the national authority has formulated.
Q: Do you have any voter turn up figure you able to release as the CNE?
SRSG Khare: This is for the CNE to release all the figures, be it voter turn out or in due course the result of the election and other details but in a totally both DSRSG Finn who visited several areas, I myself, the reports that we have been getting, we believe that was a high voter turn out. That might just clear
Spokesperson Cooper: I will just add to that, the next CNE press conference is at 3 o'clock this afternoon so you might get more information officially from them at that time. Any more questions?
Q: I would like to raise my question in regards to the security. Would UNMIT be able to guarantee security when the results of the election is announced in case there are some incidents created by the rioters?
SRSG Khare: During the period of campaign it has been quiet good as I told you earlier. Out of 131 electoral campaigns only 18 were troubled by non-serious incidents of violence. Yesterday I had been delighted to get a report from the police, which I have never seen in more than 93 countries that I have visited or I have lived in. This report started by murder, zero, public disturbances, zero, carrying of weapons, zero everything zero, arrest also zero. I have never seen that type of report. That report is actually a credit to the people of Timor-Leste. Security is first and foremost the responsibility of us all and I believe the people of Timor-Leste will continue to contribute to maintenance of peace during this process even before the announcement of results of the election and after formal announcement of the results of the election. But should there be disrupted elements, the rioters of the type you are talking about? The police UNPOL, PNTL together with them supported by ISF are ready to take immediate control of the situation and to ensure that calm and peace be maintained.
Q: I would like to add what has been said by Jill, she said that the front page of Timor-Leste[Post] is misleading. I would like to confirm here that the news, we issued are based on the facts that we gathered at the polling stations where our reporters were there. We had no capacity to reach Atauro and Hera so we did not based our facts on the [inaudible] but from the polling stations our reporters were and we also run story based on the statements issued by CNE.
SRSG Khare: Thank you we take note of that. As I said, it is indeed true that an independent, impartial, very informed media exercising a critical oversight role is essential for democracy and we will take to do whatever we can to continue to develop to strengthening capacity.
Allison Cooper: Thanks everyone, just remaining you Secretary General statement are here and I will see you back here at midday on Thursday. Thank you