VSA set to expand Timor-Leste programme following election result

Published on 19th April 2012

The decisive result of the presidential election in Timor-Leste on Monday has cleared the way for VSA to continue with plans to extend its programme into rural areas of the country.


Taur Matan Ruak won 61 per cent of the vote in Monday’s election – a result that commentators see as yet another indication of the growing stability in Timor-Leste.


Despite fears that the election could cause civil unrest similar to that which occurred during  the 2007 elections, this year’s presidential election took place in a peaceful and orderly manner.

VSA’s international programme manager Peter Swain says the election result, and the peaceful way the election was conducted, has given VSA the confidence to continue pursuing development opportunities in areas outside the capital, Dili.


At present, VSA’s six Timor-Leste volunteers are all based in Dili. However, the majority of people in Timor-Leste live a subsistence lifestyle in small villages in rural areas, and the country is one of the poorest in the Asia-Pacific region.


“A lot of VSA’s most effective work is done with rural people, who have very few opportunities to gain the economic independence they need to build a more secure future,” Dr Swain says. “Timor-Leste has gone through a period of some real difficulties in the last decade. This week’s events have given us the confidence to continue with our plans to create better development opportunities in Timor-Leste.”


Monday’s election was the first of a series of key events in Timor-Leste this year. On 20 May, the country will celebrate 10 years of independence. On 7 July, voters will choose a new government in a general election, and at the end of the year the UN peacekeepers stationed in Timor-Leste since 1999 are scheduled to leave.


VSA has been in Timor-Leste since 2002; in 2007 we were forced to suspend our programme following a period of civil unrest, but were able to return in November 2008. We work with partners in civil society to bring skills and knowledge to individual citizens to improve their income and job opportunities.


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