Dili, 22 August, 2011
FRETILIN holds nation’s first party leadership ballot
FRETILIN has become Timor-Leste’s only political party to hold a national secret and direct vote by all members for top leadership positions.
A very high proportion of the 156,500 registered party members cast ballots for party President and General Secretary last Saturday, August 20.
FRETILIN rules adopted in 2006, required a ballot even though the only nominations received this year are from the incumbents –party President Francisco Guterres Lu Olo, a former President of the National Parliament, and party General Secretary and former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.
FRETILIN Assistant Secretary General Jose Reis, who is also President of the party’s Election Organizing Preparations Committee, said today the August 20 ballot paper gave members the option of rejecting candidates even though they were unopposed.
“Members could have chosen to tick a blank box instead of a box alongside the candidates’ names,” Mr Reis said.
“Also, if the number of votes cast on August 20 failed to reach a quota, candidates would have face a ballot at the national congress. Preliminary results of the nationwide count indicate a higher than expected turnout of about 150,000 of the registered members, and that the incumbents will be re-elected with a massive vote in their favour,” he said.
“FRETILIN’s 2006 national congress decided that our rules should require that even unopposed candidates be democratically endorsed or rejected by the rank and file.
“We think all Timorese parties should follow FRETILIN by holding secret direct elections for their leaders.”
Mr Reis said the August 20 vote would took place at over 700 polling stations in every “suco” (an administrative division made up of several villages) in every district throughout the country, without incident. This included a full turnout of voters, in absolutely peaceful conditions in the sub-district of Zumalai, where last week a policeman was killed and nearly 100 homes burnt down during violence between rival youth groups.
Over 5,000 party volunteers participated as election officials and monitors. The FRETILIN election was followed by observers from Indonesian and Mozambican political parties, national political parties as well as national and international NGOs, United Nations staff, Timor-Leste’s National Elections Commission and STAE (The Technical Secretariat for Elections Support).
The results of the elections will be officially announced on 4 September next.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT JOSE TEIXEIRA MP, ON +670 728 7080