Polling stations have opened in East Timor, in the second round of presidential elections. The first round of voting last month saw accusations of fraud and irregularities. More than half the population of about one million are registered to vote to choose a successor to Xanana Gusmao.
It is the first election since the former Portuguese colony declared independence from Indonesia in 2002. Security is tight across the nation for the poll. There are around 4000 UN and local police backed by peacekeepers securing polling stations.
More than 2000 observers will monitor the vote. Current Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta and the ruling Fretilin Party’s Francisco Guterres are contesting the runoff.
Analysts say Ramos-Horta is the favourite. He is backed by the President and most losing candidates from the first round have urged supporters to vote for him. The current Parliament chief, Guterres topped the first poll with 28 percent of the vote, over Ramos-Horta’s 22. Voters hope the winner will unite a nation divided by regional rivalries and torn apart by violence.