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Gusmao calls for calm ahead of polls

Smooth election would lead to pullout of UN peacekeepers

Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao campaigns in Dili (Thomas Ora) Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao campaigns in Dili (Thomas Ora)
  • Thomas Ora, Dili
  • timor leste
  • July 6, 2012
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Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao today called for calm on the eve of crucial parliamentary elections set to determine whether UN peacekeepers will leave East Timor.

Following the April presidential win for Taur Matan Ruak, East Timor will again go to the polls tomorrow to vote for a government whose job it will be to decide how the country’s oil wealth is to be spent as it looks to draw a line under years of instability.

“Do not create any conflict,” Gusmao told gathered crowds and reporters yesterday during the opening of a new Social Ministry office in Dili.

“As prime minister, I ask all Timor Leste citizens to vote wisely,” he added. “After you do that, you must go home calmly and wait for the results.”

The election, only the second of its kind in the newly independent country’s history, is being contested by 21 political parties including Gusmao’s own National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction.

He warned that many parties would lose but said “all people must stay calm” regardless of the final results.

“We will all be winners if we respect the principle of democracy and other people’s opinions and life,” he added.

The more than 1,000 United Nations police present in East Timor will secure 650 polling stations alongside 2,500 National Police before the world body looks to withdraw all personnel by the end of the year, if the polls run smoothly.

“If there is an incident, [police] must keep social order according to the existing law,” said Longuinhos Monteiro, general commander of the National Police.

The campaign period during the last parliamentary elections in 2007 saw two supporters of Gusmao’s party killed. This time round the month-long process has passed without incident.

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