The former army chief and guerrilla fighter Jose Maria de Vasconcelos has won East Timor’s presidential elections, an election official said on Tuesday, citing provisional results. Vasconcelos, known as Taur Matan Ruak, won about 61 percent of the 452,000 votes that have been counted so far, Tomas Cabral, an election commission official, was quoted as saying on local television and radio in the capital Dili. “The tally is still being updated but it indicates that Taur Matan Ruak has gotten the majority of votes,” said Cabral.
The president plays little role in policy but is vital in underpinning stability in impoverished East Timor, which gained independence from Indonesia in 2002 after a bloody struggle. Ruak defeated another former independence fighter Francisco Guterres “Lu Olo”, from the opposition Fretilin party, in the second round of the presidential poll that started on Monday. Lu Olo got 38.8 percent of the votes, Cabral added.