Subject: Independent Observers In East Timor For Presidential Election

Independent Observers In East Timor For Presidential Election

7:24 am, 06 Apr 2007

A group of independent observers from around the world is in the East Timor capital, Dili, to monitor the presidential election there.

Monday's poll will be the first since the country gained independence from Indonesia in 2002.

Jill Sternberg, from the Solidarity Observer Mission for East Timor, says the group aims to ensure the democratic process is free, fair and peaceful.

She says there are questions about whether there will be intimidation and many people are uncertain about the future of the country.

There are no New Zealanders involved in the monitoring team, but last month extra defence force personnel were sent to East Timor to enhance security.

The United Nations says it is confident East Timor's presidential elections on Monday will be fair, transparent and largely free of violence.

UN and Australian-led soldiers have stepped up security to quell any violence before and after the poll.

At least 30 people have been injured in recent days, in clashes between supporters of the eight presidential candidates. But the UN's head of mission in Dili, Atul Khare, says the incidents were isolated and won't marr the ballot.

© NewsRoom 2007

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