In East Timor, they are voting in the parliamentary elections, which are aimed at breaking the political deadlock

DILI, East Timor — Votes were counted in Sunday’s parliamentary election in East Timor, two former independence fighters are being considered for the post of prime minister.

Two main political parties – the incumbent Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (Fretilin) ​​and the opposition National Congress for the Reconstruction of Timor (CNRT) – are believed to be in a close race for the 65-seat national parliament. A total of 17 parties started.

No party has yet formed a pre-election coalition, but analysts say CNRT, the party led by former prime minister and independence leader Xanana Gusmao, is favored to win after a successful 2022 presidential campaign that included Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose Ramos. -Horta, back to the office.

“I think the CNRT will win the majority of seats in parliament this time and I am ready to be prime minister for the welfare and justice of the people,” Gusmao said after casting his vote in the capital, Dili.

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The polling stations closed at 3:00 p.m., and the counting of votes began in the small country’s 1,500 polling stations. Preliminary results can only be known on Wednesday.

“If we win, it’s a victory for the people of East Timor,” said Fretilin leader former prime minister Mari Alkatiri. “I call on people to accept the results of the election.”

At least every third place on the party list had to be a woman, and mandates are allocated at the 4% electoral threshold.

Fretilin and CNRT blame each other for years of political paralysis.

In 2018, Francisco “Lu Olo” Guterres, then president of Fretilin, refused to swear in the CNRT’s nine cabinet candidates. Due to the stalemate, Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak resigned in February 2020, but agreed to stay on until a new government was formed.

His governing coalition currently consists of Fretilin, the People’s Liberation Party he leads, and the Khunto party based in the countryside.

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The former Portuguese colony was occupied by Indonesia for a quarter of a century and gained its independence after a 1999 referendum supported by the United Nations. The Indonesian military responded with scorched earth attacks that devastated the East Timor side of the island of Timor.

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

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

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


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