The Head of the Electoral Commission in East Timor has said the country’s first presidential election since independence will go into a second round. He said the ruling Fretilin party’s Francisco Guterres would face another challenger. Several candidates have filed a formal protest saying the poll was not fairly conducted and calling for the counting to end.
After a majority of votes were tallied, preliminary results showed the three main candidates neck and neck. At one point, the current Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta seemed ahead. But after 80 percent of the vote was counted, he had lost the lead, gaining 22.6 percent of the vote.
During the race, most put the opposition Democrat Party candidate Fernando de Araujo in third place. And Francisco Guterres was named the front-runner with 28.79. Ramos-Horta had earlier accused radical elements in the ruling Fretilin party of intimidation during the election.
But he had vowed not to challenge the result. Voter turnout was high. More than half a million people were eligible to vote. Eight candidates stood to replace Xanana Gusmao, who now wants to become the country’s Prime Minister.