I am pleased to announce that Australia will send a parliamentary
observer delegation to East Timor's presidental elections to be
held on 14 April 2002.
Election of a president will be a significant event in East Timor's
transition to independence. Australia is pleased to play a part
in building a strong democracy in East Timor. Significantly, this
will be the first time that the East Timorese themselves will manage
the electoral process since the advent of UN involvement in East
Australia will send a four-member parliamentary delegation led
by Senator Marise Payne. Other members will be Mr Luke Hartsuyker,
Senator Vicki Bourne and Senator Jan McLucas. The delegation, accompanied
by an official from my Department, will be deployed to Maliana in
the Bobonaro district in the west of East Timor. The Australian
Mission in East Timor will observe the elections in Dili.
Australia is fully supporting East Timor's transition to independence
and has allocated $150 million in bilateral aid to this end, beginning
in 2000-01 over four years. This aid includes support for programs
to help develop democratic institutions and electoral processes.
Through the aid program, the Australian Electoral Commission has
been providing technical assistance to build East Timorese capacity
for this election. Australia has also contributed to UN and UNDP
civic education and constitutional consultation programs.
I wish the people of East Timor all the best for these elections
and assure them of Australia's continued support in building their
Media inquiries: Matt Francis (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 / Julie
McDonald (Departmental) 02 6261 1555