Former East Timorese independence fighter Francisco “Lu Olo” Guterres was on track on Tuesday to win the presidency in one round, based on early vote counting a day after Asia’s youngest nation went to the polls. Guterres, with nearly 60 percent of the vote so far, held a solid lead over his seven rivals in the tiny nation’s fourth election since independence from Indonesia in 2002. The national secretariat for technical and electoral administration had counted just over 30 percent of votes by Tuesday morning. A candidate needs more than 50 percent to win in one round. “I believe there won’t be a second round,” Guterres, who is backed by one of East Timor’s main political parties Fretilin, said after early results were counted.
Articles about voting issues in the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.
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.
East Timor: Long queues as East Timorese choose to have a say in future of Asia’s newest democracy | Sydney Morning Herald
They rode ponies, steered boats and walked for kilometres along cloud-shrouded mountain paths to vote in East Timor’s presidential election on Monday. The vote 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. “I’m really happy … most of the eight candidates are good men who could help my country,” said Mateus Lucas, a 49-year-old father of three, who voted at a school in Dili. “I voted amid fear in 1999 but now I am free to vote for whoever I like,” he said, referring to a violence-hit United Nations referendum where Timorese voted to break away from Indonesia. The election is the first that East Timor has organised without the help from the UN.
Timor-Leste’s electoral commission is giving some Timorese Australians the chance to vote in the country’s upcoming elections for the first time since independence. Citizens living in Darwin and Sydney will be part of the trial, which allows them to vote without flying back to Timor-Leste. In 1975, Darwin resident Dulcie Munn fled Timor-Leste and has not voted since the country’s independence referendum in August 1999. “That’s 18 years ago,” she said. “To be able to participate again this time, casting our vote for the future of our nation Timor-Leste, is quite important.”
East Timor voted on Saturday in a parliamentary election in which Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao’s party faces a stiff challenge from two opponents as it seeks to extend its term at the helm of Asia’s newest and one of its poorest nations. Gusmao told reporters he was confident his National Council of Timorese Resistance party (CNRT) would win 44 of 65 parliamentary seats on its platform of seeking foreign loans for infrastructure projects and expanding the amount of an oil fund used for the state budget beyond its current limit of 3 percent. Gusmao, a guerrilla leader in the fight to end Indonesian rule, became the first president after independence in 2002. The main opposition Fretilin party, also a key player in the fight to secure independence, opposes foreign loans and wants to maintain the percentage of the $10.5 billion petroleum fund used for the budget at current levels.
East Timor is about to face a crucial test of its fragile democracy in parliamentary elections that will determine if UN peacekeepers can leave. The UN, after presidential polls were held peacefully over two rounds in March and April, says it will pull out its remaining 1300 troops within six months if the general election tomorrow goes well. There are concerns that violence will reignite in the oil-rich but underdeveloped state if none of the 21 parties wins an outright majority and a fragile coalition takes power.
Timor-Leste’s presidential election candidate Taur Matan Ruak delivered a speech to supporters on Wednesday that virtually amounts to a declaration of victory. Speaking in the public for the first time since the second round of the presidential polls on Monday, Ruak thanked his supporters and the individuals, organizations and political parties involved in the election. “My Victory Team! All and each one of you, thank you very much! ” he said to hundreds of supporters from a stage. In the background was a campaign post that reads, “in the past I fought with you for independence. Now I am with you again to develop this country.” Ruak, who had the support of the ruling party, had campaigned for presidency saying that he supports a safe and stable Timor- Leste and hopes to help develop the country.
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.
East Timor is electing a new president in a run-off vote between two former freedom fighters, ahead of a decade of independence next month. Opposition leader Francisco Guterres and former guerrilla leader Taur Matan Ruak are pitted against each other. The incumbent, President Jose Ramos-Horta, admitted defeat after trailing in third place in the first round of the election last month. Mr Ramos-Horta said he would hand over power to the winner on 19 May.
East Timor’s second presidential election as a free nation will see two ex-guerrillas compete in a run-off vote on Monday, after the Nobel Prize-winning incumbent was knocked out in the first round. Either Francisco Guterres “Lu Olo” or Taur Matan Ruak, both heroes of the nation’s 24-year war against Indonesian occupation, will replace Jose Ramos-Horta, who trailed in third place in a vote seen as a key test for the young democracy. While the presidency is largely ceremonial, it enjoyed a high profile under Ramos-Horta, and the election is the first in a series of landmark events for the half-island nation of 1.1 million people. In May, East Timor will celebrate 10 years of independence, which came after three years of UN administration. Then, in July, voters will choose a new government in a general election. At the end of the year the impoverished and chronically unstable nation bids goodbye to UN forces stationed in the country since 1999.