A former anti-Indonesian guerrilla fighter is leading a slow vote count in East Timor’s presidential election, the country’s first without help of the United Nations. Backed by Fretilin, the party that led the revolutionary struggle to the country’s independence, Francisco “Lu-Olo” Guterres was leading with 59.24 per cent of votes. But only 34.34 per cent of votes had been counted by early Tuesday, reflecting huge logistical problems in the largely mountainous country with a poor road network. In previous elections, UN helicopters were used to ferry ballot boxes from the most remote polling stations.
Despite that voting was not compulsory, hundreds of thousands of Timorese waited patiently in long queues in blistering heat to vote for a new president for a five year-term ahead of general elections in July.
The elections will be a key to the future of Asia’s newest democracy amid concerns the half-island nation’s oil and gas revenues are rapidly running dry.