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The East-West Center in Hawaii, supported by the US Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, has once again invited Mrs. Sandra Sumang Pierantozzi to participate in a multi-national election observation team. This time it is to East Timor which will hold its general elections on July 7 this year. The election observation team will include observers from the United States, the Philippines, Micronesia, and Papua New Guinea.

East Timor is located in the eastern part of Timor, an island in the Indonesian archipelago that lies between the South China Sea and the Indian Ocean. After Indonesia, East Timor’s closest neighbor is Australia, 400 miles to the south. Timor was first colonized by Portugal in 1520, but in a treaty in 1860, the island was divided with Portugal taking the eastern half of the island while the Netherlands took over the western half.

When Portugal left the islands in 1975, Indonesia moved in and annexed the island in 1976. After much struggle with Indonesia, it was only in May 2002 that East Timor finally got its independence as a sovereign country under its first popularly elected president, the charismatic rebel leader José Alexandre Gusmão. General parliamentary elections will be conducted on July 7; East Timor has requested international observation during the elections, and Mrs. Pierantozzi will be serving on the United States observation team.

In August of 2010, Mrs. Pierantozzi was appointed chairperson of the US State Department/East-West Center observation team to the general parliamentary elections in the Solomon Islands, with team member from Palau, Mr. Tutii Chilton of Palau Community College. The US/East-Center Team was part of an international observation team which consisted of other groups from other countries and the United Nations.