CAFOD 'cautious but hopeful' after East Timor elections

 East Timor, the world's newest nation of the 21st century, successfully ran its first election this week, now the government must start delivering for the poor, says CAFOD. Following the peaceful election last Sunday, CAFOD says it is cautiously optimistic about the future for the people of East Timor, as long as the government is unified with development at its heart. The country is the poorest in Asia and gained independence from Indonesia in 2002 after violent conflict. UN-run elections in 2002 saw the country on the path to democracy. Last Sunday another step forward was taken as half of the one million population voted peacefully in their own free and fair election. CAFOD partner Joaozito Viana, from Luta Hamunk (Struggle Together) organisation, is currently visiting in the UK. Joaozito said: "There is still room for improvement in the electoral process both technically and in educating voters. However, we're delighted it was calm and peaceful with minimal problems. "Now we must have a strong government, united and working in harmony to bring the nation together and provide a good future for the people." CAFOD programme officer for East Timor Andrew Wardle said: "The people of East Timor have fought long and hard for their independence. They know what they want and it's now up to the politicians to follow their lead and get on with the job of providing a healthy and productive future for this country that has huge potential." CAFOD has worked in East Timor for over 20 years, supporting the people during the hardest of times in their bid for independence. Throughout the turbulent 1990s, CAFOD's partners played an important role in the social and economic development of East Timor. When Indonesia withdrew in 1999, the retreating Indonesian soldiers and pro-Indonesian militias destroyed everything in their path. They left a huge range of development problems, including a shattered road network and poor electricity and water supplies. Since independence, part of CAFOD's focus is on monitoring government spending particularly in relation to revenue from the country's rich oil and gas fields. Joazito is part of a team keeping an eye on how oil and gas revenue is being used by the government. Joaozito said: "There is a real danger of East Timor falling into what's known as the resource curse. We have the potential to be very wealthy, but the Government must manage this wisely and make sure it's not wasted by corruption or bad policies but benefits people in the future. We'll continue to monitor all government spending and keep informing the people about how our government is doing."

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