Statement by the Minister for Foreign Affairs on today's Elections in East Timor
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Brian Cowen, T.D. today welcomed the successful holding of the first democratic legislative elections in East Timor.
"These first elections to a Constituent Assembly mark a historic step in East Timor's transition to full independence", the Minister said.
"On behalf of the Irish people, I congratulate the citizens and leaders of East Timor for the courage and vision they have displayed over the past two years in preparing for this important event.
The high-level of participation in the elections was an impressive demonstration of the determination of the people of East Timor to assume full control over their own political destiny. I hope that this level of active democratic involvement will remain a feature of East Timor's political life.
I encourage the various political parties to continue to demonstrate the responsibility they have shown in the lead up to these elections.
Much still remains to be done as East Timor moves forward to the next stage of independence-building, with the drafting of a constitution, the formation of a government and preparation for Presidential elections. The Irish Government remains committed to supporting East Timor throughout this important process and into the post-independence period.
I would also like to pay tribute to the professionalism and dedication of the staff of the United National Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), led by UN Special Representative Vieira de Mello, and the Independent Electoral Commission for their work in organising and facilitating today's elections."
Note for Editors
Ireland Aid has contributed a total of 315,126 to the United Nations Support Programme for today's elections as well as an additional US$15,000 in support of political access to the electorate via the media.
Ireland has also contributed observers to the European Union Election Observer Mission and to the United Nations Volunteer team. The staff of Ireland's Aid Office in Dili also acted as observers during polling.
In the year 2000, IR£1.25 million of Ireland Aid support was provided for East Timor. On 13 June 2001 an enhanced IR£971,575 assistance package for East Timor was announced by Minister of State, Ms. Liz O'Donnell T.D. Ireland Aid's support for East Timor will continue to expand as the relevant transitional programmes come to fruition.
A contingent of Irish troops is currently serving as part of the UNTAET mission in East Timor.