Subject: RA: Presidential poll suffers from electoral fraud allegations

ABC Radio Australia

Last Updated 13/04/2007 2:44:34 PM

TIMOR: Presidential poll suffers from electoral fraud allegations

Complaints are flying thick and fast in East Timor that the Presidential election has suffered serious fraud. Virtually all of the eight presidential candidates have alleged serious counting irregularities or intimidation of voters in last Monday's ballot. Listen

Presenter/Interviewer: Karon Snowdon Speakers: Fernando de Ara˙jo Lasama, Democratic Party candidate; Lucia Lobato Social Democrats Presidential candidate; Harold Mucho political advisor to Fretilin Party candidate Fransisco Gutterres

SNOWDON: East Timor's first election since independence and the first one to be conducted by the country's own institutions was mostly praised on Monday not only for its lack of violence but that it appeared to have been fair.

But now the Prime Minister and second placed candidate Jose Ramos Horta says he's not happy.

Through his spokesman he too is alleging there has been some vote rigging in some districts, which saw the vote for one candidate jump sharply.

Dr Ramos Horta is calling for an entire recount.

Five of the six losing candidates in the field of eight have gone further and plan to lodge a complaint with the court of appeal in the capital Dili.

They're alleging serious discrepancies between the number of votes and the number of voters, that final figures were changed to favour the Fretilin candidate Fransisco Gutterres and of intimidation.

Fernando de Ara˙jo also known as Lasama from the Democratic Party was at one stage running neck and neck with the two other leaders.

LASAMA: Yeah, we found alot of evidence about manipulation to these elections. When they counted, like some candidates got 5,000, but after they put into the computer, the result changed from 5,000 to 10,000. That's something suspect.

SNOWDON: Lasama says he will accept the result of any fair recount.

Lucia Lobato who stood for the Social Democrats will join the complaint which alleges that staff of the two electoral agencies manipulated the counting in some instances.

LOBATO: I think that we have the data, we have the witnesses here, we will send it to the court.

SNOWDON: And are you saying also that the Fretilin candidate, Mr Gutterres got too many votes and that he shouldn't be as far ahead?

LOBATIO: Yes, of course, because they give so many vote to Lu Olo, but in reality, he got nothing in some polling stations.

SNOWDON: And what result do you want from making your complaint?

LOBATO: We want a president, but not come from an election that is full manipulation. We will let the court decide.

SNOWDON: The Fretilin campaign has also complained to the Electoral Commission about suspected tampering with ballot boxes and papers.

The official announcement of the final count is expected soon, but its unlikely to change the result which will see Fransisco Gutterres and Jose Ramos Horta contest the second round in May.

Harold Mucho is Mr Gutterres' political advisor.

MUCHO: I don't think that the result will be changed. I think what would happen is probably Mr Gutterres will have may be an increase on the percentage that he has.

SNOWDON: Harold Mucho says Fretilin isn't worried about the Opposition's claims of fraud - of more concern is his estimate of only a 60 per cent voter turnout on Monday.

MUCHO: I can't figure out why, because with past elections, the voter turnout was quite large and this time I think it's only going to be about 60 per cent.

SNOWDON: You would be aware that the losing candidates, a group of the losing candidates is considering making a protest and about the count in this first round. What's Fretilin's response to that?

MUCHO: That's the right of every candidate to do that. Our response is that we have also made some complaints. I mean if you are the losing party, always you find something to complain about.

SNOWDON: They are claiming in fact that there was intimidation and interference from Fretilin Party members. What will Fretilin be saying in its defence?

MUCHO: Well, I think that the person that claimed most was Dr Ramos Horta, but I think he's information is quite incorrect. He speaks about Fretilin doing door-to-door campaign, that there were intimidating. But in the areas where he mentioned, there was no door-to-door by Fretilin. 

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