Successful Timorese Parliamentary Elections Held
July 11, 2012
By: Franz Essig | Printer Friendly
On July 10, Timor-Leste’s election commission announced that Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão’s National Congress for the Reconstruction of Timor-Leste (CNRT) Party was set to win a plurality of seats in parliament. Without a majority, Gusmão now must form a coalition government. The CNRT won 30 of the 65 seats available with 37 percent of the vote. Meanwhile, the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor, or Fretilin party, won 25 seats, and the Democratic Party gained eight seats.
The International Republican Institute (IRI) officially observed the process and lauded the elections. IRI wrote on their website that the elections “were peaceful, without major incident and generally observed international standards,” also noting that they were “free, fair, and well organized” and the results should be “seen as legitimate by the people of Timor-Leste and the international community.” In addition to IRI, a team of Brazilian election officials also oversaw the voting in 13 districts. The European Union (EU) also praised Timor-Leste, stating that the small country “provided an example to the international community of successful state-building.”
The election largely centered around economic issues, specifically which party would best spend the revenue from Timor-Leste’s $10.5 billion USD oil fund. Timor-Leste continues to face widespread poverty and unemployment, but Gusmao has announced that he believes Timor-Leste could be a middle-income nation by 2030.
The CNRT party was founded in 2007 by Xanana Gusmão, who was previously the first President of Timor-Leste and a popular Guerilla leader before assuming political office. Following the 2007 parliamentary elections, the CNRT, after placing second in votes, formed a coalition with other opposition parties and gained control of government, appointing Gusmão as Prime Minister.
This year’s elections were seen as an important turning point for the 1,300 United Nations (UN) peacekeeping forces that have been stationed in Timor-Leste since 2006 when the government couldn’t control a violent sectarian crisis that left dozens dead and thousands displaced. The UN has vowed to pull out peace-keepers if this election proceeds smoothly, requiring Timor-Leste to be self-sufficient for the first time since independence.
Timor-Leste gained its independence in 2002 following 24 years of brutal Indonesian rule under which 17,000 people were killed. Previously, the half-island nation had been a Portuguese colony.
Associated Press (via Huffington Post) – East Timor PM’s Party Wins Plurality In Parliament
Christian Science Monitor – East Timor’s Second Major Transition Since Independence
International Republican Institute – Timor-Leste Holds Credible Parliamentary Elections
RTT News – EU Hails Orderly Conduct Of East Timor Legislative Elections