East Timor:Presidential election goes to head-to-head runoff

19 de Março de 2012, 19:34

Dili, March 19 (Lusa) - Veteran politician Francisco "Lu Olo" Guterres faces political newcomer General Taur Matan Ruak in the second round of East Timor's presidential election that current incumbent José Ramos-Horta announced would be held in the third week of April.

The full provisional results, with over 75% of votes counted, attributed Guterres, flag-bearer of the main opposition Fretilin party, 28.5% followed by former military chief Gen. Matan Ruak, an independent backed by Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão's CNRT party, with 25.2%.

José Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Peace laureate and independent who did not campaign actively for re-election, came in a distant third on 18%, level-pegging with Parliamentary Speaker Fernando "La Sama" Araújo, leader of the Democratic Party.

The remaining eight candidates failed to pick up more than marginal shares of the electorate.

The presidential vote came in for widespread praise from the international community with the Community of Portuguese Language Countries (CPLP) mission leader Carlos Correia describing the process as "free, fair, transparent and run in an orderly process in accordance with the principles of democracy."

Correia's position was echoed by a statement from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon that congratulated "the people of East Timor for showing their commitment to democracy and peace."

Furthermore, the Australian Defense Minister Stephen Smith expressed his hope that the success of this election would be repeated in April's runoff and in June's legislative elections.

Should this prove the case, Smith also promised Australia would open talks with East Timor and the international community about the possible withdrawal of the 450-strong peace-keeping force deployed in the country for the last six years.

In a press conference held Monday, East Timor's current President José Ramos-Horta confirmed the second round would be held in the third week of April.

The Electoral Secretariat is due to deliver Monday the full provisional results to the National Election Commission that is attributed a 72-hour period to resolve any complaints arising before issuing the final results.