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  • Print publication year: 2008
  • Online publication date: October 2015

Timor-Leste: A Year of Democratic Elections




Timor-Leste held its first democratic election in 2007. The political and military crisis of 2006 had brought the country to a “failed state” condition. The dismissal of 560 soldiers from the Timor-Leste Defence Force (F-FDTL) in 2006, the removal of the former military commander, Alfredo Reinado, from the F-FDTL's Command in May the same year, the armed conflict between F-FDTL and the Timor-Leste National Police (PNTL), which left eight PNTL members dead, and the resignation of Mari Alkatiri from his position as Prime Minister demonstrated that Timor-Leste was in a fragile and critical condition requiring immediate assistance.

In order to restore peace and security, the leaders of the country invited an international peace keeping force from Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Portugal and Philippines for urgent intervention in the east-west ethnic-based conflict. The presence of the international peace keeping force was able to reduce the scale of violence, particularly in Dili city. In addition, they were also mandated to secure the 2007 elections in Timor-Leste.

With the assistances of the international stabilization force (FSI) from Australia and New Zealand, and the International Peace Keeping Force under the United Nations, the 2007 elections were conducted generally peacefully though small scale of violence did occur in some parts of the country.

This review focuses on the 2007 democratic elections and their impact on the socio-economic as well as the political development of the country.

The 2007 Presidential and Parliamentary Elections

As the concept of democracy includes free and fair elections, freedom of association and freedom of expression, the presidential and parliamentary elections held in Timor-Leste in 2007 signalled a growing democratic process in the country.

Presidential Election

The presidential elections were the first national elections conducted according to the Timor-Leste's law. Through both the first and second rounds of this election, Timorese voters showed their understanding of and commitment to peaceful democratic processes in the country.