Timor-Leste held national presidential and legislative elections in 2007 and will hold local elections in 2008. The 2007 elections were the first national post-independence elections organized by the Timorese and as such represent an important step in the consolidation of democracy in the country. The elections were administered by the Technical Secretariat for Electoral Administration (STAE) and supervised by the National Electoral Commission (CNE). The three national electoral processes, Presidential (2 rounds) and Parliamentarian, were considered in general by the stakeholders to have been free, fair and in line with international standards and national laws. The national electoral bodies were assisted by technical assistance made available by this project and the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT).
Based on the lessons learned throughout this demanding process and in view of the need to strengthen the human and institutional capacity of the national electoral management bodies, political parties and the media, this project has been revised for its second phase to provide longer-term support following the 2007 national elections and using an “Electoral Cycle Approach”. The second phase of the project will work with the electoral institutions (CNE and STAE) and the political parties to build capacities, and will work on issues of legal reform and civic education to ensure open and participative electoral processes.
The project aims to establish a framework for international assistance for the Timorese electoral cycle, coordinate international donor support, target funds and services more effectively and avoid duplication of resources. Where the focus of the first phase of the project was on ‘hard’ or material assistance, the focus of the second phase is on ‘soft’ or human capacity and institution building assistance.