UN IEC: Statement of Chief Electoral Officer 31 Aug. 11am
United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor
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.
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.
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.
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 IECís 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.
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.
The following are the preliminary number of ballots issued per district:
Persons on Voterís Roll Number
of Ballots Cast [no figures listed here]
Cova Lima 24,055
BD: Peoples' Participation / Participação Dos Povos / Partisipasaun Politika - A collection of recent media releases, reports and articles