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Presidential election in East Timor

Presidential election in East Timor
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Polls have closed in East Timor as the country elects a new president in what is expected to be a three-way race.

Twelve candidates are standing, but one of the favourites for this largely ceremonial role is incumbent José Ramos-Horta. He is a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize and survived an assassination attempt in 2008.

Former military chief Taur Matan Ruak, who is backed by prime minister Xanana Gusmao’s Congress for the Reconstruction of East Timor (CNRT) party, is also expected to do well in the first round of the ballot.

The third contender is former parliamentary speaker Francisco Lu-Olo Guterres, head of the opposition Fretilin party, who lost a run-off to Ramos-Horta in 2007.

With a population of 1.1 million, East Timor became independent in 1999 after 24 years of occupation by Indonesia. There are United Nations forces stationed there til the end of the year.

If no candidate wins a 51 percent majority, the top two will face each in a run-off vote next month.