Voters in East Timor queued up on Saturday to cast their vote in the country’s fourth parliamentary elections since independence in a ballot where campaigning has focused on development and jobs in Asia’s youngest democracy. More than 700,000 East Timorese are registered to vote in the country, which has a land area slightly smaller than Hawaii and is home to 1.2 million people. Over 20 political parties are vying for 65 seats in parliament as frustration grows over the government’s failure to use the wealth generated by oil and gas sales to support development and create jobs. The parliamentary election will determine the country’s prime minister. The official results of the election is expected to be announced by Aug. 6, although preliminary results should come much earlier.
“I hope the party that wins this election will build East Timor to be better than before,” said Maria Magdalena, 28, after casting her vote for the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor, or Fretilin, one of the parties in a coalition backing the current government.
“I just want everything to run smoothly, peacefully and that there be no conflict in this country,” she added.
East Timorese picked former independence fighter Francisco “Lu Olo” Guterres to be its next president in a largely peaceful election in March.