Solidarity Observer Mission
for East Timor (SOMET)
HAK Association building
Avenida Gov. Serpa Rosa, Farol, Dili, Timor-Leste
Dili: Jill Sternberg or Ruby Rose Lora, +670-331-3324
or +670-734-2535; email:
International: John M. Miller, +1-718-596-7668;
SOMET CONGRATULATES THE
PEOPLE OF TIMOR-LESTE ON FIRST NATIONAL ELECTION
For Immediate Release: 10 April 2007
Timor-Leste’s voters went to the polls on 9 April 2007 to elect
their next President. The Solidarity Observer Mission for East Timor
(SOMET) dispatched twelve accredited, nonpartisan observers to 52
polling stations in Dili, Liquiça and Ermera districts to observe
the voting and tabulation process.
Timorese voting on April 9.
SOMET was initiated by the international solidarity movement for
Timor-Leste, and is a coalition including organizations in the
United States, Asia and the Netherlands. In cooperation with
Timorese non-governmental organizations, SOMET observers from eight
countries came to Timor-Leste to support the people of this new
democracy in their right to choose their next President.
SOMET congratulates the people of Timor-Leste for overcoming
obstacles and inexperience to carry out their first national
election largely without violence or bias to reflect the will of the
voters. Nearly all polling center workers we observed performed
ably, impartially and conscientiously. Voters were patient and
committed, and nearly all knew how to participate in this free and
fair democratic election. Our preliminary analysis indicates that
the process generally went as intended, notwithstanding some minor
irregularities and problems. Given recent turbulence which shook the
confidence of many Timorese in their governmental processes, this is
a significant accomplishment.
Timor-Leste will have more elections, and SOMET will issue a
report later this week highlighting areas that can be improved. Some
of the most important are:
• SOMET observers witnessed many polling stations where
political party and candidate agents seemed too numerous, or
appeared to try to influence voters or intervene in the
electoral process. Polling Center staff often had trouble
dissuading agents from engaging in inappropriate actions.
• In some polling centers, closing and counting processes
deviated from the regulations, and there seemed to be unclear
standards or training about procedures and when to invalidate a
ballot. Ballot counting often went into the night, especially in
centers with multiple polling stations. Many centers had no
lighting, and the lanterns provided for the election were not
bright enough for observers and candidate agents to verify
• Measures to guard against double-voting were often not
followed, especially checking a voter’s hands for ink before
allowing them to vote, although SOMET did not witness anyone
trying to vote more than once.
• Predicted violence by Timorese voters or partisans did not
occur, due to the responsible behavior of the population.
International and Timorese police generally performed well,
although SOMET observed some instances of inappropriate
deployment of police and international soldiers.
The Solidarity Observer Mission for East Timor (SOMET), a
non-partisan observer mission for the elections, was formed at the
invitation of some civil society organizations in Timor-Leste to
work in partnership with nonpartisan Timorese and other
international observers to support an election process which is
transparent, free and fair. SOMET will observe the 2007 Presidential
and Parliamentary elections. We will report on the entire process --
paying special attention to voter education, campaigning, vote
casting and counting, and implementation of the results.
More information can be found online at see
- 30 -
see also Report of the Solidarity Observer
Mission for East Timor (SOMET) on the
first round of the Timor-Leste 2007 Presidential Elections