Ti­morese vote for next pres­i­dent

The Star Malaysia - - World -

Dili: Ti­mor-Leste voted for a new pres­i­dent, with a for­mer guerilla fighter tipped for vic­tory af­ter win­ning the back­ing of the two big­gest par­ties, in a new sign of sta­bil­ity for Asia’s youngest na­tion.

The vote comes at a chal­leng­ing time for the tiny half-is­land na­tion 15 years af­ter in­de­pen­dence, with oil re­serves run­ning dry and its lead­ers strug­gling to reach agree­ment with Aus­tralia over lu­cra­tive en­ergy fields.

It is the first pres­i­den­tial elec­tion since the de­par­ture of United Na­tions peace­keep­ers in 2012. But de­spite fears of vi­o­lence there has been only spo­radic and low-level un­rest in the run-up to the vote.

Fran­cisco Guter­res – known by his nom de guerre “Lu-Olo” – is favourite to win the pres­i­dency, which is largely cer­e­mo­nial but can have a key role in keep­ing the peace be­tween feud­ing politi­cians.

He is leader of the sec­ond-big­gest party Fretilin and also won the back­ing of in­de­pen­dence hero Xanana Gus­mao and his CNRT party, the coun­try’s largest.

“I am sure I will win, that there will be no sec­ond round,” Guter­res, who is fac­ing seven chal­lengers for the pres­i­dency, said af­ter cast­ing his vote in the cap­i­tal Dili.

He will have to se­cure over 50% of the vote to avoid a run-off in April.

Demo­cratic Party politi­cian An­to­nio da Con­ce­icao is seen as his clos­est ri­val in the fourth pres­i­den­tial elec­tion since Ti­mor-Leste gained in­de­pen­dence in 2002 fol­low­ing a bru­tal 24-year In­done­sian oc­cu­pa­tion. — AFP

Peace­ful elec­tion: Vot­ers wait­ing for their turn to en­ter a polling sta­tion in Dili. — AFP

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