East Timor will choose a new president


The people of East Timor will choose their new president on March 20, 2017. The current president of the Republic Taur Matan Ruak (TMR) has announced the electoral campaign will begin on March 3 until March 18, 2017.

TMR said he will not be campaigning again for the presidential election because he would rather hand over the position to another person, especially for the young generation.

There are currently 7 presidential candidates who have registered to the Court of Appeals. The Technical Secretary for Electoral Administration has also verified their documents. “We have verified the documents of six candidates and have submitted them to the Court o Appeals for approval,” said the director of Technical Secretary for Electoral Administration Acilino Manuel to the reporters in his office in Caicoli – Dili, Wednesday, March 8, 2017.

The seven presidential candidates who will compete in the presidential election are Francisco Guterres Lu – Olo from the FRETILIN party, Jose Neves Sama Larua (Independent), Antonio da Conceicao (Democratic party),  Jose Luis Guterres (Independent), Angela Freitas (Worker’s Party), Amorim Vieira (Independent), and Antonio Maher Fatuk Mutin (Timorese Socialist Party).

On the other hand, a political analyst from the National University of Timor—Lorosa’e Camilo Ximenes—said there are four strong candidates who will likely compete during the formal election. “No one candidate will be the winner in the first round because there are many potential candidates,” Camilo said.

On the 16th of April 2012, an East Timorese—former General Taur Matan Ruak—was voted in for the second round of the presidential election. Ruak is an independent candidate who competed against Fretilin’s candidate Lu –Ólo for Head of State in Timor-Leste. Both candidates made it to the second round where Lu-Ólo ran the first place with 28.8% and TMR 25.7%.

Researcher Josh Trindade said for the ordinary Timorese, the most important thing is not who will be the next president but whether the election process is carried out peacefully. If this election is peaceful (both the presidential and parliamentary [in June this year]), it will be a milestone in the history of Timor. Much effort has been made by many Timorese to promote a peaceful election; one free of violence. It is amazing and impressive to see the Timorese’ eagerness to change the international community’s view of “Timor-Leste as a post-conflict violent country.” If the election process runs peacefully, it will become the foundation where national development can take root for a brighter future.

The Minister of State and Spokesperson of the Government of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, Agio Pereira, stated that Timor-Leste is approaching the 2017 elections with confidence. He added that Timor-Leste looks forward to successful elections this year and stands ready to strengthen its relationship with other nations as a member of ASEAN.

Pereira further noted that as for democracy, in today’s context where many countries struggle to mobilize their citizens to the ballot box, the Timorese do not take their democratic rights—paid for at a great price—for granted. Voter turnout is typically very high. Local elections, conducted across the country’s 2,225 villages in October and November of this year, were orderly, free, and fair with the results accepted by all. The number of women elected to the position of suco (village) chief doubled. Timor-Leste has every reason to look to the upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in 2017 with confidence and as a valued opportunity for people to participate in the democratic process.

Having emerged from a long period foreign occupation, Timorese leaders of all political spectrums highly value peace and stability as being fundamental to the national interest. The citizenry will not reward those who try to make political gains by sowing strife and discord.

While the size of the Timorese economy and market are, at present, relatively small, they continue to grow. Size does not, will not, and should not preclude Timor-Leste from being brought into the fold of ASEAN, which was created with the view toward establishing and maintaining peace and stability so that the countries of Southeast Asia can focus on nation-building and development. It is the success of this basic vision of ASEAN that has led it to its next iteration as the ASEAN Economic Community.

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