Former Independence Fighter New President of East Timor

Posted April 17th, 2012 at 3:20 am (UTC-5)
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Former independence leader Taur Matan Ruak has won East Timor's presidential election.

Elections officials announced Tuesday that Ruak won the presidential run-off with 61 percent of all votes cast, compared to 38 percent for Francisco Guterres, another independence leader known as “Lu Olo.” Guterres placed slightly ahead of Ruak in last month's first round of the presidential election.

The results must be examined by the court of appeals before they are officially released.

Ruak, a former army chief who has promised to introduce mandatory military service, will succeed Jose Ramos-Horta, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in the country's independence fight from Indonesia. Mr. Ramos-Horta finished in third place in the initial round of voting.

The presidency is largely ceremonial, but holds significant symbolism and moral influence as East Timor nears its 10th anniversary of independence. If parliamentary elections in July are successful, the 400-member United Nations peacekeeping force is expected to go ahead with a planned withdrawal before the end of the year.