The United States congratulates the people and Government of Timor-Leste on the successful conduct of peaceful parliamentary elections.
Following a two-round presidential election that concluded in April, some 74 percent of the eligible voters of Timor-Leste cast their ballots again on July 7. This time they chose a new parliament from among candidates representing the 21 parties and coalitions.
Independent observers indicate that the elections met international standards. They were transparent, free, fair and peaceful, and with no major incident marring the calm atmosphere. The process was well managed and observers, both domestic and international, were present in large numbers, including for the first time anywhere, observers working under the auspices of the ASEAN Regional Forum. The United States assisted in the planning and coordination of several observer missions. And, in accordance with Timorese law, disabled voters were given priority in balloting.
This is a big year for Timor-Leste, a Southeast Asian country of just over one million people located north of Australia. In April, Timorese people cast their votes in a run-off election and chose former Chief of Defense Taur Matak Ruak as their new President. A little more than a month later, on May 20th, the country celebrated its first full decade of independence. The success of the July 7th Parliamentary election sends a clear signal that Asia’s newest nation is ready to stand on its own.
In 1999, the United Nations sent in a peace-keeping force to help stabilize the country and see it through the transitional phase following independence in 2002. The success and peaceful nature of this year’s elections, coupled with what we are optimistic will be the orderly formation of the new government, should go a long way toward meeting the international community’s criteria for transforming the United Nations Integrated Mission (UNMIT) and the Australia-led International Stabilization Force later this year.
The United States remains committed to continued close partnership with Timor-Leste and to contributing to its future peace, stability, and prosperity. We look forward to working with the new Timorese Government when it is named.