As Timor-Leste prepares to choose a new president in March, Roy Trivedy, the senior UN official in the country, explains the Organization’s role in securing the vote for all citizens across the small island nation, which gained independence from Indonesia in 2002, and expresses his hopes for safe, inclusive, and transparent elections.
“The United Nations in Timor-Leste has been supporting democracy in the country for more than two decades, by promoting human rights, development, and peace and security.
Our role in elections depends on the wishes of the Member State involved, and commonly consists of technical support and advice, and can also include support for electoral administration and planning, voter registration, election budgeting, logistics and procurement, the use of technology, training, and voter and civic education.
Informed, included, and safe
In response to a request for electoral assistance from the Government of Timor-Leste in 2019, the United Nations, through the UN Development Programme (UNDP), is helping the Government to conduct a poll that is inclusive, with effective COVID-19 safety measures in place, and ensure that the electorate is as informed as possible.
UNDP has also helped the Government to procure personal protection equipment, such as masks, and is renovating seven buildings, and constructing new offices, for the Electoral Management Bodies (EMBs), in various municipalities of the country, incorporating elements in the layout and construction that make them as “pandemic-proof” as possible.
The media play a vital role in strengthening voter participation, especially by women, youth and people with disabilities, to promote equal and inclusive representation.
UNDP and UN Women have collaborated with the National Press Council to provide a range of support for journalists reporting on the elections, and they are seeking to enhance participation by first time voters, women, and youth through social media, TV, and radio.
Support for people with disabilities
The UN in Timor-Leste has also taken specific steps to ensure that people with disabilities are included, and their voices are heard in the electoral processes: for example, UNDP conducted the first braille training in the Dili language, in which 170 disabled people participated.
Persons with a physical or visual disability may appoint a person of their choice to assist them in voting. Polling officials will be required to bring persons with disabilities to the front of the queue when waiting to vote, along with the elderly and pregnant women.
The UN is committed to supporting Timor-Leste’s efforts to strengthen its democracy, and support the electoral authorities’ efforts to provide a safe and secure environment for the elections, as well as protect and uphold human rights throughout the electoral process”.
UN Resident Coordinator
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