EAST TIMOR BALLOT COUNTING COMPLETE IN 12 OF 13 DISTRICTS
UN election officials finished counting ballots in 12 of 13 districts today ahead of tomorrow’s announcement of the final results in the vote for East Timor’s first democratically elected President.
Carlos Valenzuela, the Chief Electoral Officer of UNTAET’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), cautioned at a press conference that despite the late stage of the counting process, no official statement has been made on the outcome of the election.
Final national results will be announced tomorrow, and the IEC Board of Commissioners – a majority of whom are East Timorese – will certify the official results on Sunday, 21 April.
The official number of total votes was determined today as 378,538 – or 86.2 per cent of the estimated voter population – after all ballots were accounted for during the first phase of the counting process.
Of that total, 336,955 have been counted. The last remaining district, Baucau, was expected to be finished counting by midnight. The number of invalid votes in the 12 counted districts was 11,804, compared to 325,151 valid votes.
Independence leader Xanana Gusmão has so far won 11 districts and a total of 267,615 votes. Legislative Assembly Vice President Francisco Xavier do Amaral has so far won one district and a total of 57,536 votes.
Party and candidate agents and independent electoral observers have been present at all 13 counting centres. The IEC Board considered evidence relating to four ballot boxes found with broken seals yesterday and determined that there had been no tampering of the ballot boxes. Initial reports yesterday suggested the seals had inadvertently broken during transport.
The president is the last fundamental piece of the East Timor government to put in place before UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan declares the territory independent during a ceremony in the capital, Dili, on 20 May.
IRISH PEACEKEEPER KILLED IN ACCIDENTAL SHOOTING
An Irish peacekeeper was killed late Monday in East Timor when a firearm accidentally discharged during a routine patrol, UNTAET’s Peacekeeping Force said today.
SRSG Sergio Vieira de Mello, Chief Minister Mari Alkatiri and Peacekeeping Force Commander Lt.-Gen. Winai Phattiyakul and about 20 Irish peacekeepers paid their respects today to Pvt. Peadar Flaherty at a funeral ceremony held at Comoro Airport in Dili after the 21-year-old soldier’s body arrived from Suai district, near the Indonesian border.
“All our thoughts are with Peader’s family and with you, the Irish military, today,” said Vieira de Mello, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in East Timor. “His life, and certainly the loss of his life, tragic as it may have been, was not pointless. It was not in vain. It will serve, we all know, to cement the bonds among all of us who have been here serving this worthwhile cause of the freedom, independence, peace and prosperity of East Timor and its people.”
A full investigation into the death of Pvt. Flaherty, of Lettermore, Republic of Ireland, has been launched. His body will be sent to Darwin, Australia, for an autopsy before being returned to Ireland for burial.
The incident occurred at about 6:15pm on Monday, 16 April, near the village of Fatulore. Pvt. Flaherty was then airlifted to the Slovakian field surgery facility at Suai town, but did not respond to treatment.
“The thoughts, prayers and deepest sympathy of all members of the Peacekeeping Force are with the family and friends of this fine soldier at this tragic time,” Irish Contingent Commander Lt.-Col. John Courtney said.
“This incident again highlights the ever present dangers faced by peacekeepers as they go about their important work not just in East Timor but around the world.”
Pvt. Flaherty was one of 42 Irish soldiers serving with the UNTAET mission and had been in East Timor since February.
COUNCIL OF MINISTERS APPROVE APPLICATION TO WHO
East Timor’s Council of Ministers authorised the Ministry of Health today to oversee the soon-to-be-independent nation’s application to become a member of World Health Organisation (WHO).
“Being a member of the WHO constitutes an important mark in the development of a sector considered as a priority by the Second Transitional Government,” the Council said in a press statement.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs staff also gave a presentation to the Council on plans for East Timor to sign various international treaties and conventions – including the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – upon independence on 20 May. A final list of treaties and conventions for ratification will be approved at a later meeting.
Ministers also approved a package of Ministry of Transport and Communication proposals aimed at resolving telecommunication problems that the East Timor Public Administration (ETPA) will face after 20 May. Several communication services currently provided by UNTAET will not be provided by its successor mission.
Also approved was a joint proposal presented by both the Ministry of Transport and Communication and the Ministry of Internal Affairs on the establishment of a VHF radio network for the East Timor Police Service and ETPA at the district and sub-district level.