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East Timor’s Elections this Week: Thoughts from SFCG Country Director Jose De Sousa

2012 March 12
by sfcg

East Timor, a tiny half-island nation in the South Pacific, is holding influential elections in the wake of the death of its first president

Last week, Francisco Xavier do Amaral, East Timor’s first President and popular veteran of the nation’s resistance struggle against Indonesia’s 24-year occupation, died at age 74. He had been a candidate in East Timor’s upcoming March 17 presidential election. Following a brief civil war in 1975, Mr. Amaral declared independence for East Timor, a tiny half-island nation. He was appointed president, a position he held only for nine days before neighboring Indonesia invaded the territory.

Neighboring Indonesia occupied East Timor for 24 years, from 1975-1999

Following the death of one of this week’s presidential candidates, we asked our Country Director in Dili, Jose De Sousa (known as Quico), to share his thoughts about how these elections can proceed transparently and fairly.


Here is what Quico had to say:

“How can East Timor can hold transparent and fair elections? I believe the first thing that needs to be considered is to strengthen the elections law, so that it can more effectively promote transparency throughout the elections process, particularly regarding voter registration and the process of nominating candidates.

And, the media have a huge role to play in elections. This is quite a new role for our media, so there is much education and training that is needed. For example, the media can question the candidates campaign promises. How will their promises of improving education and improving health care be accomplished if they are elected?   The media can probe candidates so that the people learn more about the candidates, beyond their promises.

Media can play an important role in getting information to the people, and contributing to the formation of public opinion. This may include formal voter education material provided by the electoral management body. Alternatively or additionally, we can also support the media themselves to produce voter education materials. The overall aim of media coverage during elections in working democracies is to ensure fair and objective reporting and information dissemination.”

A view of Dili, capital of East Tomorl, and Atauro Island


SFCG has been working with local community radio stations throughout East Timor, to help them develop their capacity to bring impartial and unbiased news to the people in the communities they serve. They struggle to survive with minimal resources, but they are committed to playing their part in the important election that takes place this week.

4 Responses leave one →
  1. March 13, 2012

    lack of information dissemination seems to be a big challenge for this tiny new nation.

  2. Cyrstal Abram permalink
    January 13, 2013

    elections can really give us the right to vote and choose our desired candidates.,

    Please do look at our new web portal
    <img src=" “>

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