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E Timor election campaign wraps up
Observers praise parties for what they say was largely peaceful campaign period.
Last Modified: 28 Jun 2007 05:23 GMT
Election observers praised parties for what they said was a largely peaceful campaign [EPA]

East Timor's month-long parliamentary election campaign has come to a close three days before voters go to the polls.

 

Final campaign rallies held on Wednesday were largely peaceful, although there are reports of clashes breaking to the east of the capital, Dili, between rival political supporters.

Campaigning got off to a bloody start in the poor and bitterly divided nation of one million people, but has been relatively peaceful since.

 

The UN mission in East Timor praised the parties, who signed a code of conduct ahead of the election pledging to campaign peacefully.

Atul Khare, the top UN envoy in Dili, said in a statement the political parties have delivered their election manifesto "fairly and free of violence".

 

"This clearly demonstrates their commitment to a free and fair election on June 30," he said.

 

'Smooth campaigning'

 

Timor vote


Fourteen parties or coalitions fighting for seats in 65-seat parliament

No single party expected to win majority under proportional representation system

Vote seen as showdown between new CNRT party and Fretilin

Key issues: Alleviating poverty, managing oil revenue, law and order

Maria Angelina Sarmento, a spokeswoman for the national election commission, said "the overwhelming majority of the political parties conducted their campaigns well".

 

"Most campaign activities proceeded smoothly and they [the parties] appeared to have tried to use the available 30 days to effectively campaign... and unveil their vision for the next five years," she told AFP.

 

Sarmento said the election commission had looked into a few reports of violence and submitted reports to the attorney-general's office for further investigation.

 

Saturday's polls are being seen as a largely two-way race between the ruling party Fretilin and the CNRT, a new party created by Xanana Gusmao, the former president who is vying for the prime minister's post.

 

However, under the proportional representation system no party is expected to win outright.

 

Political rivalry

 

International peacekeepers will provide
security for Saturday's vote [AFP]
The only reported trouble on the final day of campaigning broke out in the area of Manatuto, east of the capital.

 

An official at the Dili National Hospital told the AFP news agency that nine people were injured in the fighting.

 

Jose Teixeira, a Fretilin spokesman and a legislative candidate, accused Gusmao supporters of being behind the clashes.

 

"We demand that the UN police immediately investigate these incidents and bring the perpetrators of violence to justice," he said.

 

Peacekeepers

 

The United Nations has deployed about 1,700 police in East Timor. They will be backed up by an Australian-led peacekeeping force to ensure security during Saturday's vote.

 

International peacekeepers were despatched in May 2006 when Dili was rocked by street violence between rival security force factions and gangs that left 37 people dead and some 150,000 homeless.

 

The unrest was triggered when Mari Alkatiri, the then prime minister, sacked some 600 soldiers who had deserted, complaining of discrimination.

 

Alkatiri later stepped down and an investigation into his alleged involvement in distributing weapons to civilians was dropped due to a lack of evidence.

Source:
Agencies
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