13 October 2006 United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today appointed a team of high-level experts to verify next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections in Timor-Leste, part of the world body’s continuing assistance to the tiny South East Asian nation that it shepherded to independence in 2002.
“The Secretary-General sees next year’s elections as an important step on the path to peace and stability in Timor-Leste, and reaffirms the determination of the United Nations to do its part in supporting a credible and transparent electoral process,” he said in a statement issued by his spokesman in New York.
“They will work independently of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT), and will submit their findings and recommendations to the Secretary-General and the Timor-Leste authorities,” the statement said, adding that the three-person team will “verify the satisfactory conduct of each phase of the electoral process.”
The members of the team are Ms. Lucinda Almeida of Portugal, Mr. Reginald Austin of Zimbabwe and Mr. Michael Maley of Australia.
The Security Council created the expanded UNMIT in August to help restore order in Timor-Leste after a crisis attributed to differences between eastern and western regions erupted in April with the firing of 600 striking soldiers, a third of the armed forces. Ensuing violence claimed at least 37 lives and drove 155,000 people, 15 per cent of the total population, from their homes.
Over 50,000 internally displaced persons (IDPs) are still living in makeshift camps in and around the capital Dili, while low level fighting continues in the streets. Earlier this week, the Secretary-General’s Acting Special Representative Finn Reske-Nielsen said that restoring public security is an absolute necessity in the country.