Subject: east timor headlines/17Aug2001

Bahasa Indonesia Headlines ­ Friday 17 August 2001

1. Election Violence (Suara Timor Lorosae editorial, Page 5) ............................................................

What Dili Bishop Carlos Ximenes Belo cautioned against has already happened. On Monday, a truck carrying Democrat Party (PD) supporters, heading towards the party’s campaign in Liquica, was stoned at Ergua Village in Bazartete.

In their report to the Liquica-branch of the Independent Election Commission (IEC), PD leaders condemned the action and asked for an immediate investigation to be carried out. Such an incident could also happen to any other party in its campaign at the grassroots.

Analyzing what had happened to PD, it seems that there is a concerted effort from a certain party to use violence in order to intimidate others. The stoning of the PD truck was planned. Before stones were thrown, several villagers came out towards the truck and hurled verbal abuses at the PD supporters who were seated behind.

The IEC has promised to investigate into the incident and assured PD that action would be taken against the guilty parties ­ if there were enough evidence. But it remains to be seen what sort of action will be taken by the IEC in the light of criticisms that the commission has difficulties trying to grasp realities in the field.

From the start of the election campaign, the IEC has failed to come up with a proper code of conduct for all political parties. The US$5,000 fine and five years jail for election-related offences is questionable from the legal perspective. Why? Because it’s only the courts that can decide fines or jail sentences for those convicted of offences and not the IEC which is supposed to be an independent electoral referee.

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