Over the weekend (Monday is a holiday), the new Prime Minister Estanislau de Silva and the new President Jose Ramos-Horta will be sworn in. It is also the anniversary of independence on 20 May. So lots of dignitaries will be moving around and congregating, which no doubt will lead to some pretty wary UN police and ISF.
This will dominate the radar screen but a little snippet that almost sneaked under the radar screen was a little electoral law change which mandates the shift of vote counting from each polling centre to each of the 13 district capitals. (This was reported in today’s Suara Timor Lorosae newspaper.)
On the one hand, this will mean that the vote count itself ought to be under the tightest watch with plenty of observers to go around. However, it does mean that ballot boxes leave a fairly tight environment at the polling centres (where international, national and party-based observers are usually in numbers) and travel back to the district capitals.
In the old system, everyone knew the vote tallies at each polling station so any differences that may be recorded later ought to raise a red flag. Under the new system, the critical phase is the movement of unopened ballot boxes from the polling centres to the district capital. Some of these polling centres are pretty remote and this will put enormous pressure on the people responsible for assuring safe transportation to the district capital.
What it does mean is that observers will most likely not be able to say that voting papers have been under constant observation from the act of voting right through to the count. Doesn’t sound too crash hot to me.
Later Addendum : I was a bit behind the 8-ball on this. Kate over at easttimorjournal.blogspot.com covered the electoral law change yesterday. (Note to brain : read Kate before commenting on electoral matters.)
It’s nothing more than a desperate attempt by Fretilin to aford itself the chance to subvert people’s will to see them out of power.
Anything could happen to those boxes on the way to the district capitals, couldn’t it?
Especially when Fretilin has unrestricted access to all of the equipment used in the elections as STAE is under the Ministry of State Administration.
I see both sides here. Counting in super contested places like Viqueque and Ermera could actually lead to more problems there, but I also recognize that “Not Surprised” has a point. I would hope that the ballot boxes go accompanied by national and international observers.
Any word on the fighting reported by ABC outside the Chinese embassy after RH’s swearing in? (In Farol?)
Chinese Embassy !!
The SMS messages warned of trouble near the World Bank (One More Bar, A1 Services) and I later was told one person was killed there and brought into the World Bank grounds. I probably travel past here 3 or 4 times per week.
I know a local reported heavy fighting this evening in the Manleoana area SW of Bairo Pite but that couldn’t be it.
I have now read the ABC report which quotes Allison Cooper the UN spokesperson and I believe she and/or the ABC reporter probably needs to read the following anonymous letter :
Dear Allison/possible misquoting ABC reporter,
The Chinese Embassy is in Farol. The old (and ex) Chinese consulate building from 1999 is near the World Bank and is now an IDP camp. The UN must have up-to-date maps. Either read them or get out more.
Blogging in the interests of accuracy