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Foreigners flee ahead of election

Fears of violence or repeat of murder attempt on cadidates

Foreigners flee ahead of election
The Indonesia-Timor border crossing
Albertus V. Rehi, Kupang

March 9, 2012

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Concerns over possible violence in Timor Leste have persuaded a number of foreigners to leave the country ahead of a presidential election, according to the Indonesian ambassador. Most of the foreigners are the families of diplomats, Eddy Setiabudi, said yesterday. There are 12 candidates, two of them women, in the election which is scheduled for March 17. Campaigning began on February 29 and will end on March 14. Setiabudi said the foreigners’ concerns stem mainly from experience of the previous presidential election in 2007, after which former president Jose Ramos-Horta was almost killed in an assassination attempt in 2008. Other recent incidents have also raised fears. A clash between the police and the military at a hospital in the capital Dili injured two policemen, while a building housing the National Election Commission was damaged after petrol bombs were thrown at it last month. Setiabudi was speaking at a meeting yesterday in Kupang, capital of East Nusa Tenggara province, to discuss the possible evacuation of Indonesians from Timor Leste in the event violence does break out. There are more than 7,500 Indonesians in the country, said Setiabudi. There are an unspecified number of other foreigners in the state. For the evacuation plan, he has chosen several spots including oil and gas corporation Pertamina in Dili. The border areas including Motaain and Motamasin will also be prepared, he added. Related article: March held for peaceful elections        
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