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E. Timor presidential election heads for runoff, Ramos-Horta in 3rd.

DILI, March 18 Kyodo

East Timor's presidential election Saturday ended with no clear winner in the first round, setting in motion a likely runoff between the two top runners, former guerilla fighters Francisco Guterres and Jose Maria de Vasconcelos, the Electoral Administration said Sunday.

President Jose Ramos-Horta, who is seeking a second term, trailed in third place, garnering 18.77 percent of the votes counted as of Sunday afternoon.

Guterres, popularly known by his nom de guerre Lu Olo, of the Revolutionary Front of an Independent East Timor, or Fretilin, was top at 27.83 percent of the votes counted.

De Vasconcelos, a former army chief and known by his nom de guerre Taur Matan Ruak, was second with 24.66 percent.

''The two (top) presidential candidates will go to the second round after being ruled by the Appeal Court,'' Tomas Cabral, head of the Electoral Administration's Technical Secretariat, told Kyodo News.

According to the Constitution, the president is elected by an absolute majority to serve a five-year term. If no candidate obtains a majority in the first round, a runoff will be held between the two candidates with the highest votes in the first round.

The runoff is set to take place not later than 30 days after the first round of the presidential election.

A total of 377,960 votes have been counted so far, with the final result unlikely before a few days. The country has 626,503 eligible voters, but the turnout has yet to be announced.

Lu Olo won the first round of the 2007 presidential election without a clear majority and was defeated in the second round by Ramos-Horta.

Ramos-Horta, the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, left Fretilin in 1988 and has since remained an independent politician.

He lost the support of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao's National Congress of the Construction of East Timor, CNRT, the ruling party within the governing coalition that now backs Matan Ruak.

Gusmao and Matan Ruak were two leading figures during the independence struggle against Indonesian rule.

Fernando de Araujo, the parliament speaker from the Democrat Party, came in fourth, with 17.60 percent of the votes.

East Timor gained independence from Indonesia in 2002 following a 1999 referendum in which the East Timorese overwhelmingly voted for independence.
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Publication:Asian Political News
Geographic Code:9INDO
Date:Mar 19, 2012
Words:379
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