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UNTAET -United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor

INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION, Office of the Chief Electoral Officer

STATEMENT OF THE CHIEF ELECTORAL OFFICER
11:00am, 31 August 2001

After a tranquil and orderly election day, the Independent Electoral Commission is pleased to report that all ballot boxes have now safely arrived in the district capitals, and the counting process has begun.

Voting

As I mentioned last night, a few polling centers which had lines at 4pm continued operating until the last person in the queue was processed. In the end, 8 centers - 5 in Dili, 1 in Cova Lima, 1 in Ainaro, and 1 in Baucau - continued handling voters well after the official closing time, with the last center handling its last voter at approximately 9:00pm.

I mentioned yesterday that we had received one complaint from a political party. As of this morning, we had received one additional complaint regarding alleged irregularities in the process. I remind everyone that complaints are referred immediately to the Board of Commissioners for their consideration.

Voter Participation

Preliminary figures received from District Electoral Offices indicate that voter participation was, as expected and with few isolated exceptions, high throughout East Timor. As of this morning, the preliminary total number of ballots issued in all districts excluding Dili is 309,128, which is 93.4 percent of the voters in the voter roll in those districts. The number of IECP 61s (reflecting the number of voters who were not in the final voters roll) is 9,719. Thus we can say that from the total estimated voter population, we have a turnout of 91 percent. The final figures including Dili district will be presented this afternoon.

Ballot Box Transport and Security

As planned, sealed ballot boxes were sent to the District centers immediately after the close of the polls. Ballot boxes from 244 of 248 polling centers had been returned to district counting centers by midnight under CivPol escort. The exceptions were four polling centers in Manufahi, where because of dangerous road conditions or the need for helicopter support, the ballot boxes were stored securely overnight at nearby CivPol stations. They have now safely arrived at the district counting center. In many instances, electoral observers, agents, and the media accompanied the vehicle convoy transporting the ballot boxes to their destination in the district capitals. Upon arrival, the boxes were checked to ensure that all ballots and other sensitive materials were accounted for, and they were then placed in secure storage under continuous CivPol guard. Party agents, observers, and media were able to monitor ballot boxes throughout the night.

Out of the 1,632 ballot boxes, we have received reports of 6 ballot boxes received with broken seals; these incidents were reported in Dili, Baucau, Liquica, and Viqueque. In Liquica, a ballot box fell to the ground and broke open when the vehicle door was opened upon arrival at the counting center; the district electoral coordinator immediately cleared the area, placed the ballots back in the ballot box, re-sealed it in the presence of staff and CivPol, and took statements from those present.

All of these cases have been referred to the Board of Commissioners immediately, and the Commissioners are conducting a thorough investigation, including requesting statements from observers and party agents. In the meantime, those boxes are quarantined until the Commissioners reach a decision on how to handle them. The Commissioners are also continuing their visits to the districts to speak with party agents, observers, and electoral staff to have a clear picture of how the electoral process unfolded in all 13 districts.

Counting Process

There is obviously a lot of work still to be done, and we hope that observers and party agents will continue accompany the entire process closely. The counting involves a number of phases, and we will be providing a detailed briefing here at 1:30 this afternoon on the various steps that we will be going through during the count. Let me just say now that the IEC's highest priorities are the accuracy of the count and protecting the secrecy of the vote, including guaranteeing that no result can be traced back to any particular village or polling center. We anticipate that we may have complete results from one or two districts by the end of the weekend, with the bulk of the results coming during the first half of next week. We will keep you posted through our regular press conferences about the progress of the counting process.

Thanks

I would once again like to thank and commend all those who worked so hard to make these elections a success, especially the East Timorese staff of the IEC, from our assistant managers at headquarters to the approximately 5,000 polling staff who worked long hours yesterday under sometimes difficult conditions.

 

UNTAET - United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor

 

INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL COMMISSION

Office of the Chief Electoral Officer

 

STATEMENT OF THE CHIEF ELECTORAL OFFICER

7:00pm, 31 August 2001

 

Estimated Turnout

 

The estimated turnout at national level was 91 percent, including Dili, as follows:

 

                            Ballots          Registered                 %            IECP                    Eligible        Total %

                            Issued                 Voters        Turnout              61s         Voters turnout

Aileu                    14,984                 15,846             94.6              263                    16,109                93

Ainaro                 21,043                 21,476                98           1,148                    22,624                93

Baucau               47,647                 50,175                95           1,993                    52,168             91.3

Bobonaro            32,535                 34,083             95.5              917                    35,000                93

Cova Lima          22,280                 24,055             92.6              680                    24,735             90.1

Dili                       70,136                 78,212             89.7           2,355                    80,567             87.1

Ermera               40,361                 41,830             96.5              984                    42,814             94.3

Lautem               24,141                 26,191             92.2              499                    26,690             90.4

Liquica                21,874                 23,154             94.5              460                    23,614             92.6

Manatuto             17,011                 18,478             92.1              205                    18,683             91.1

Manufahi             17,582                 18,778             93.6              725                    19,503             90.2

Oecussi              23,506                 25,256             93.1              822                    26,078             90.1

Viqueque             29,868                 31,485             94.9              948                    32,433             92.1

Totals                382,968               409,019             93.6         11,999                  421,018                91

 

As we have explained many times, the total potential voter population for these elections was not limited to the names found on the voters roll.  Those voters who were eligible to vote and had proof of registration dated on or before 23 June were allowed to vote after being inscribed in a supplementary list.  (IECP 61)  The total number of voters who found themselves in that position was 11,999.

 

Furthermore, while the percentage of voters was 93.6 percent of the voters on the voters roll, the real turnout takes into account those on the supplementary list, and that figure is 91 percent.  From these figures, we can see that the highest turnout in percentage terms was in Ermera, with 94.3 percent turnout, and the lowest was in Dili with 87.1 percent.  Nevertheless, Dili produced the highest absolute number of voters, with 70,136 ballots issued.

 

COUNTING

 

After a long day yesterday, I gave instructions to our district coordinators that they should start their counting process sometime after 9am today.  The first one, Cova Lima, actually started at 8:45, with the last one, Manufahi, starting at 11:45.  Party agents and observers were present in all 13 counting centers, and some media visits were taking place as well.

 

As we speak, 304 IEC officers are working in the 13 district counting centers. As you know, the process of counting has different phases.  All of the districts are currently in the first phase, reconciliation.  This is the process of counting ballot papers, not votes, to see if the actual number of ballots in the ballot box matches the number of ballots issued minus the number of ballots spoiled.  At this point, no one has yet seen what is marked on each ballot

 

REPORTS

 

International and National observers and political party and independent candidate agents continue with their crucial task of monitoring all the procedural steps, which will allow the East Timorese people to be certain that the results are accurate and reflect their will.

 

We have begun to receive today the feedback from international observer groups.  The groups are issuing their own statements, but we concur with them that congratulations are due to the East Timorese people for their outstanding behavior in the Election Day, for their impressive turnout, for the peaceful and friendly environment in which voting took place.

 

Step by step, we are approaching to the day when the East Timorese will know the result of their common decision on who will be the 88 representatives in developing the basic law of an independent and democratic East Timor.


 

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