Subject: E.Timor votes in village polls

Oct 9, 2009

E.Timor votes in village polls

DILI - EAST Timor voted on Friday in village elections seen as a test of the fledgling country's stability a decade after its historic independence referendum which led to its bloody split from Indonesia.

Past elections in East Timor have been marred by tension and fighting and the United Nations mission is keen to see the village vote pass smoothly ahead of its eventual departure and general elections in 2012.

UN Police and the national force, the PNTL, are jointly handling security and extra officers have been deployed to all polling station areas, UN Police Commissioner Luis Carrilho told AFP ahead of the vote.

'We are not expecting any incidents, but if any incident were to happen, we would be ready to deal with it,' Mr Carrilho said.

Village councils help find solutions to community problems that impact directly on security, as disputes are often solved through community leaders. The 2004-5 village elections were predominantly peaceful but in 2006 a split in the armed forces incited clashes in the streets of Dili, forcing more than 100,000 people to flee their homes.

Fighting around the 2007 parliamentary election led to two deaths while in February 2008, Jose Ramos-Horta, who won the 2007 presidential election, was targeted by assassins, leading to a lockdown of Dili. -- AFP

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