Call for sacking of Catholic rep on Timor election body

Dr Damien Kingsbury, an Australian observer at last week's East Timor presidential election, has called for the replacement of Fr Martinho Gusmao, the Church's representative on the country's election commission, over bias allegations.

The ABC's PM program reports that Melbourne academic Dr Kingsbury says that the country's spokesman for the Election Commission should be replaced because he's brought the Commission into disrepute.

"[Fr Gusmao]'s made a number of comments that he really ought not to have made about his personal preferences in front of journalists, and that's highly inappropriate for somebody who's meant to be an independent adjudicator," Dr Kingsbury said.

"I would not regard his views as being those of an independent or an impartial mediator".

Asked by a PM reporter if Fr Gusmao should be replaced, Dr Kingsbury replied: "Absolutely".

"He's the Catholic Church representative on the Commission and I think that he got there for reasons that have less to do with his technical ability and more to do with some internal political preferences.

"He simply has shown that he is not the right person for that job and his commentary on the electoral process before the election and since then has really brought I think, the Electoral Commission into disrepute and that's a dangerous thing," Dr Kingsbury added.

But the spokesman, Catholic priest, Fr Martinho Gusmao, blamed the East Timorese Technical Secretariat for Election Administration (STAE) for problems with last weeks vote.

Prior to the election Fr Gusmao also made comments publicly voicing support the Democratic Party's presidential candidate, Fernando "La Sama" de Araujo

Academic and long-time observer of East Timor, Damien Kingsbury, says Mr Gusmao should be replaced for those and other comments made in the lead-up to polling day.

But while Dr Kingsbury says there were a number of discrepancies with the vote, he's confident they won't alter the final result.

E Timor election official should be replaced: observer (PM, ABC, 16/4/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Damien Kingsbury (Deakin University)
East Timor holds presidential elections (BBC, 9/4/07)
Presidential election exposes rifts in East Timor (IHT, 8/4/07)
A look at the East Timor presidential election (IHT, 8/4/07)

Ramos-Horta seeks Catholic nod for Timor presidency (CathNews, 26/2/07)
Indonesia-Timor commission promotes reconciliation (CathNews, 8/2/07)
First graduates from ACU Timor teachers course (CathNews, 23/11/06)
Former Timor PM blames Church over ouster (CathNews, 10/11/06)
East Timor situation calm for All Saints (CathNews, 3/11/06)
Nobel prize Bishop meets Timor rebels and ex-PM (CathNews, 27/10/06)
Men killed outside Dili Church as Timor's PM leaves to see Pope (CathNews, 24/10/06)
Timor bishop in bid to prevent new violence (CathNews, 13/10/06)
Timor highlanders back fugitive rebel with prayers (CathNews, 11/9/06)
'Big people' must reconcile, say displaced Timorese (CathNews 15/8/06)
Priest says coffee growers big losers in Timor unrest (CathNews 21/7/06)
Ramos-Horta wants Vatican embassy for Timor (CathNews 11/7/06)
Timor Church accused of plotting coup (CathNews 29/6/06)
Timor Church to pursue truth and dialogue (CathNews 28/6/06)
Diocese prepares to aid fleeing East Timor refugees (CathNews 11/5/06)
East Timor Catholic leaders appeal for calm after riot (CathNews 5/5/06)
Thousands shelter in Catholic centres after East Timor riots (CathNews 3/5/06)
West Timor bishop tells Govt it's time to act on refugees (CathNews 13/3/03)

17 Apr 2007