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Postelection Statement on East Timor Elections, Aug. 31, 2001

Dili, East Timor…The calm, peaceful, orderly voting and extremely high voter turnout yesterday were impressive signs of the Timorese people's determination to exercise their right to democratic self-government. In the mountains we saw how people had arisen before dawn and walked miles to cast their ballots early in the morning soon after the polling stations opened.

The Carter Center observer teams will return to Dili today, and we will prepare our full report based on their observations. The important next step today is reconciliation of ballot papers to ensure the integrity of the vote tabulation when it begins.

From the discussions we had with Timorese political leaders and UN officials prior to election day and the phoned-in reports from our teams in the field, we foresee a positive report. We are confident that the election for the Constituent Assembly will be a successful critical step toward formation of a Timorese transition Cabinet and the writing of a new constitution.

As with the 1999 referendum balloting, this election is a tribute to the courage and suffering of the Timorese people in their struggle for self-determination. The election also serves as an example to other countries in the Pacific region and the rest of the world that are working to strengthen democratic political institutions in the face of serious challenges.

Now it is time for political leaders to accept peacefully and without question the will of the people and to turn to the important task of writing a constitution for the new state of Timor Loro Sa'e as independence draws near.

As co-leaders of The Carter Center delegation, we are honored to make a small contribution to the good people of Timor. We are also especially grateful to President Carter and The Carter Center for this opportunity to be a part of the Center's efforts to defend and advance peace, human rights, and democracy around the world.

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