[Like others, ETAN is watching the post-election government formation process in Timor-Leste with great interest. We will have more to say for ourselves shortly. In the meantime, here is a statement from our colleagues in APSOC, GPPAC-SEA and IID. More on the recent election from ETAN volunteers can be found here.)
STATEMENT OF CONCERN ON TIMOR-LESTE POST-ELECTIONS EVENTSWe are deeply saddened by the turn of events in our beloved Timor-Leste.
After observing a rather peaceful and awe-inspiring parliamentary elections last week, we left the country with the firm belief that indeed the brave but gentle Timorese people have shown the world that democracy is alive and well in their young nation. We went home rejuvenated by the Timorese people's commitment to the sacredness of the electoral process, humbled by their discipline in exercising this fundamental right and awed by the congeniality of the political rivals among themselves during the entire electoral exercise.
We even wished and hoped that other peoples and older nations in the region --including ours-- can learn, nay, copy, how the Timorese people conduct their elections.
We issued a glowing report about this humbling and seminal experience.
One death is too many and we urge all political parties to rein in their followers and accept the election results with equanimity and humility.But following the announcement of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao of his party's decision to form a coalition government with two other parties, we are very disheartened to learn about the violence that has erupted in the capital Dili and in some districts like Viqueque. We have received reports of the mayhem having been initiated by disgruntled young followers of one party that was not invited into the coalition, spurred by their party's exclusion and alleged "insults" that was publicly broadcast against them by some members of the ascendant party. We have also learned of some alleged high-handed response of some security authorities to what was perceived as an initial emotional outburst to the alleged "insults" and announcement. As of this writing, we have learned of one death, scores of injuries inflicted on all sides and at least 50 vehicles burned.
Democracy can only thrive with strong checks and balances. But these must be done within the parameters of the law and even in the parliament of the streets if need be, but sans any form of violence.One death is too many and we urge all political parties to rein in their followers and accept the election results with equanimity and humility. We also urge for calm and for the decibel of political rhetoric to be restrained if not muted at this crucial period. If there are major questionable issues about the exercise, we urge that the parties resort to peaceful and legal processes that they have anyway collectively established themselves. We however also call that those responsible for the violence- whether they come from any party or from the authorities, be meted with the full force of the law. This, as we call on all parties to endeavor to work in a framework for the common good, in harmony and complementation, while in partnership or in opposition.
Democracy can only thrive with strong checks and balances. But these must be done within the parameters of the law and even in the parliament of the streets if need be, but sans any form of violence.
We call on all our Timorese brothers and sisters, on civil society, to guard your democracy with vigilance, persistence and resolve. It is ultimately you, the people, who will make your democracy work. You deserve no less.
We call on the international community and in particular the solidarity movement, to offer what it can to accompany the people of Timor Leste in their tedious path to democracy, peace and progress.
We pray that Timor Leste emerge from this momentary hump a stronger and prouder nation.
GLOBAL PARTNERSHIP FOR THE PREVENTION OF ARMED CONFLICT -SOUTHEAST ASIA (GPPAC-SEA)
ASIA-PACIFIC SOLIDARITY COALITION (APSOC)
INITIATIVES FOR INTERNATIONAL DIALOGUE (IID)