East Timor votes in parliamentary elections with the aim of breaking the political deadlock


DILI, East Timor (AP) – Vote counting was underway in East Timor’s parliamentary election on Sunday with two former independence fighters being considered for prime minister.

Two main political parties, the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor, or Fretilin, and the opposition, the National Congress for the Reconstruction of Timor (CNRT), are believed to be in a tight race for the National Parliament of 65 seats. A total of 17 games were played.

Neither party has formed a pre-election coalition, but analysts said the CNRT, a party led by former prime minister and pro-independence leader Xanana Gusmao, is favored to win after a successful 2022 presidential campaign that saw its candidate, the Nobel Peace Prize winner José Ramos. – Horta, back to office.

“I believe the CNRT will win the majority of seats in Parliament this time and I am ready to be prime minister for the sake of the people’s prosperity and justice,” Gusmao said after voting in Dili, the capital.

The polls closed at 3pm and the counting of votes began at 1,500 polling stations in the small country. Preliminary results may not be known until Wednesday.

“If we win, it is a victory for the people of Timor Leste,” said Fretilin leader former prime minister Mari Alkatiri. “I’m asking people to accept whatever the outcome of this election is.”

Parties were required to have a woman in at least a third position on their list and seats are allocated using the method with an electoral threshold of 4%.

Fretilin and CNRT have blamed each other for years of political paralysis.

In 2018, then-President Francisco “Lu Olo” Guterres of Fretilin refused to swear in nine CNRT cabinet candidates. The impasse led to the resignation of Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak in February 2020, but he agreed to stay until a new government is formed.

His governing coalition is currently made up of Fretilin, the People’s Liberation Party he leads, and the Khunto rural party.

The former Portuguese colony was occupied by Indonesia for a quarter of a century and gained independence after a UN-sponsored referendum in 1999. Indonesia’s military responded with scorched earth attacks that devastated the East Timor half of the island of Timor.

The transition to democracy has been difficult, with leaders battling mass poverty, unemployment and corruption. East Timor’s economy depends on dwindling offshore oil revenues.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations granted observer status to East Timor this year before it became the regional bloc’s 11th member.

The UN estimates that nearly half of East Timor’s population lives below the extreme poverty line of $1.90 a day, and that 42 out of every 1,000 babies die before their fifth birthday due to malnutrition.


Associated Press writer Niniek Karmini in Jakarta, Indonesia contributed to this report.

Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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