Polls close in East Timor's presidential election
- 20 Mar 2017 at 15:17
- WRITER: KYODO NEWS
People queue up to give their vote during the presidential election at a polling station in Dili, East Timor, on Monday. (AP photo)
DILI, EAST TIMOR - Voting has concluded in East Timor's fourth presidential election Monday, with the president of a leftist party, Francisco Guterres, widely regarded as the frontrunner.
Guterres, of the leftist Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor Party, or Fretilin, is standing along with seven other candidates. His main rival is the Democratic Party's Antonio da Conceicao, who currently holds two ministerial positions in the country's Cabinet.
Upon casting his ballot at one of the country's 941 polling stations, Guterres told reporters he is confident of victory.
"I will win the election. There will be no second round," he said.
Separately, Conceicao voiced willingness to accept the result whatever it may be, saying, "I hand it over to the people to decide."
"Today, we will determine our nation's fate for the next five years, in which people are voting for change," he added.
Popularly known as Lu Olo, Guterres, 62, stood unsuccessfully in the two previous presidential elections in 2007 and 2012.
He is a charismatic, well-respected politician who spent the years from 1974 to 1999 as a guerrilla rebel fighting against Indonesia's rule over the tiny Southeast Asian country.
He was studying law at Dili University in the East Timorese capital in 2002 when he was named speaker of parliament, a position he held until 2007.
Da Conceicao, 52, currently serves as East Timor's minister of state, coordinator of social affairs and education minister. After trailing Guterres early in the campaign, his prospects improved when two new minor parties threw their support behind him.
During Indonesia's occupation, da Conceicao, secretary general of the Democratic Party, was one of the leaders of the National Resistance of East Timorese Students.
There are some 748,500 eligible voters in East Timor, Australia, and Portugal.
The newly elected president will replace President Taur Matan Ruak, whose term in office will end on May 20. He is seeking to become the country's next prime minister.
According to the constitution, the president is elected by an absolute majority vote to serve a five-year term. If no candidate obtains a majority in the first-round election, a runoff is held between the two candidates with the highest votes in the first round.
East Timor separated from Indonesia in 2002 following a 1999 referendum in which the East Timorese overwhelmingly voted for independence.
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