Australia, U.K. praise peaceful presidential elections in Philippines

20:20, May 12, 2010      

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Australia and the United Kingdom praised the Philippines Wednesday for the smooth conduct of its first-ever automated polls as both governments noted the significant drop in election-related violence in the country.

The Australian Embassy said the strong voter turnout and participation by volunteers and civil society "were a powerful expression of the Philippines' commitment to democracy."

While waiting for the official proclamation of winners in the national level, Ambassador Rod Smith said Australia expects an orderly transition of power.

"Australia looks forward to a smooth political transition and to working with the new administration when it takes office, building on the substantial and positive relations we now enjoy," he said.

British Ambassador Stephen Lillie said popular fears about the introduction of automated elections had been laid to rest, he although noted that there was still work to do in achieving a genuine culture of peaceful elections in the country.

Lillie expressed support for all duly elected office holders in working for the common good of the Filipino people and the strengthening of Philippine-British relations for the benefit of the two countries.

"This is a good day for politics in the Philippines. Not only do we have a clear and early indication of the next President, but we have also seen many other candidates gracefully conceding defeat. This is a welcome sign of the increasing maturity of the Philippine political system," he said.

The envoy also congratulated the Commission of Elections ( Comelec) for conducting a credible national election. He highlighted Comelec's reforms - with the support of the British Embassy - to increase the participation of marginalized sectors in the elections.

"In particular I welcome the decision by Comelec to allow detainees not yet convicted of any crime to vote for the first time. This is a real milestone," he said.

Lillie also lauded the work of poll watchdogs such as the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV) and the Legal Network for Truthful Elections for their efforts to ensure that legal and other election standards are monitored and upheld.



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