DILI – East Timor is heading for a run-off in its presidential election, with the Nobel Prize-winning incumbent Jose Ramos-Horta out of the race, a polling official said Sunday, March 18.
The preliminary results point to a second-round showdown between the opposition Fretilin party’s Francisco “Lu Olo” Guterres and former guerrilla leader Taur Matan Ruak.
Ramos-Horta, who shared the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize, was lagging in third place after more than 70% of votes were counted, election secretariat official Luiz Fernando Valls told AFP.
“The preliminary counting is finished,” he said.
“Guterres and Ruak will go through to the second round on April 16, based on this preliminary count.”
None of the 12 candidates who contested Saturday’s election were able to garner more than 50 percent of the vote constitutionally required for an outright win.
Guterres was on around 28%; Ruak 25%; and Ramos on 18%, with about 73% of the total votes cast counted, Valls said.
Saturday’s vote marked the poor and chronically unstable country’s second presidential election as a free nation. It was the first in a series of key events for the country as it enters a pivotal period.
In May, East Timor will celebrate 10 years of independence from Indonesia, and in June, voters will choose a new government in a general election.
At the end of the year the nation of 1.1 million people bids goodbye to UN forces stationed in the country since 1999. – Agence France-Presse