Subject: AKI: Leader of PUN Opposes Vote Counting Changes

[Please note: President Ramos-Horta signed the bill and the changes are in effect for the parliamentary election. ]


Dili, 29 May (AKI) - The president of the new East Timorese party Partido Unidade Nacional (PUN), Fernanda Borges, is against proposed changes to the country's electoral law ahead of legislative elections on 30 June on the grounds that they would hamper transparency. "It will be very difficult for people to accept this change and believe that the counting will be done transparently," she told Adnkronos International (AKI).

Under the changes proposed by the Fretilin majority party, voting slips would be transported and counted in the capitals of electoral districts rather than at polling stations as happened during the presidential elections in April and May won by Jose Ramos Horta.

Borges also said there isn't enough time to make such a change.

"To change the rules now would mean electoral officials and party agents would have to be retrained at short notice," Borges told AKI. "New security measures would also have to be put in place to stop ballot boxes from being tampered with or changed."

The legislative elections come after a year of political tension and violence which has forced a change of government and 150,000 Timorese to abandon their homes.

The 30 June vote is considered more important than the presidential election as, in the Timorese political system, power resides with the prime minister, the majority party member given the job of forming the government.

One of the new parties to be set up in the former Portuguese colony, PUN is based on Christian democracy principles and claims to have 100,000 members.

Its president Borges, who was part of the first post-independence government but resigned in 2001 accusing the political establishment of corruption, accused Freitlin of "manipulating the electoral law for its own purposes and breaking the trust of the people once again."

East Timor's president is examining Fretilin's draft law and has the power to send it back to parliament. Indeed the change could be postponed till after the June vote considering that the electoral campaign kicked off on Tuesday.


May-29-07 16:55

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