East Timor President Concedes Election Defeat

Posted March 18th, 2012 at 11:10 pm (UTC-5)
Leave a comment

East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta conceded defeat on Monday in his bid to win a second term in office.

With more than 70 percent of the ballots counted, results show Francisco Guterres, from the main opposition Fretilin party, ahead with about 28 percent of the vote. He is followed by former military chief Jose Maria de Vasconcelos with 25 percent. They will go on to a run-off election in mid-April.

President Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Peace laureate, trailed with about 18 percent. In a news conference Monday, Mr. Ramos-Horta congratulated the two candidates.

Official results are not expected until Tuesday.

In a statement released Sunday, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon commended East Timor for conducting elections in an atmosphere of order and calm.

Voters cast their ballots Saturday in the second presidential election since East Timor, one of the world's youngest and poorest nations, won independence from Indonesia in 2002.

Violence during presidential voting in 2006 nearly plunged the country into civil war, but officials reported no unrest during the latest election.

If the presidential run-off and an upcoming parliamentary vote in June run smoothly, a contingent of U.N. and Australian peacekeepers is scheduled to pull out of the country by the end of this year.