06 April 2012

Electoral law to remain unchanged for election runoff

10:21am Apr 4 Independente (cover page and page 9 in English) - Timor-Leste's citizens will have to return to the districts they registered for their electoral cards in to vote in the second round of the presidential election on April 16 because National Parliament is unable to alter the law to allow them to vote elsewhere in time.

Many people failed to vote in the first round of the election because they face various difficulties, including an inability to travel from Dili to the districts. This situation led the people's representative in National Parliament to demand an alteration to the relevant electoral law.

MPs recently created a proposal for an alteration to the law for debate in Parliament but did not meet the quorum needed for a vote.

Fretilin MP Antoninho Bianco said it was important to alter the electoral law so all citizens had the freedom to exercise their democratic rights.

"Many people did not vote (in the first round of the presidential election). This is a big concern. We must create a good mechanism so people can vote freely," said Bianco in Parliament.

There are many arguments for altering the law but it cannot be changed before the April 16 vote because state election bodies STAE and CNE don't have enough time to change their electoral mechanisms. Some Parliamentary Majority Alliance (AMP) MPs have requested that the law be altered for the June parliamentary election, while for the second round of the presidential election measures are taken to help citizens to vote.

The government must prepare transport to take people to the districts so they can vote, said PD MP Rui Menezes.

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