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East Timor Heads for Run-Off Without Ramos-Horta


East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta casts his ballot during the presidential election in Dili, East Timor, Saturday, March 17, 2012.

East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta casts his ballot during the presidential election in Dili, East Timor, Saturday, March 17, 2012.

Preliminary election results in East Timor indicate the country is headed for a presidential run-off without incumbent leader Jose Ramos-Horta.

With more than 60 percent of the vote tallied, Francisco Guterres, from the main opposition Fretilin party, is ahead with about 28 percent of the vote, followed by former military chief Jose Maria de Vasconcelos with 25 percent.

President Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Peace laureate, is trailing in third place with a little more than 18 percent.

Official results are not expected until Tuesday. But it appears that none of the 12 candidates will win the outright majority needed to avoid a run-off.

The top two front runners are expected to move to the second round poll scheduled for mid-April.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon congratulated the people of East Timor for showing their commitment to democracy and peace by participating in the polls. In a statement Sunday, Mr. Ban said the successful holding of the 2012 elections will further enable the transition to a new partnership between East Timor and the U.N.

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

Officials reported no unrest during Saturday's election, unlike the presidential vote in 2006 during which violence nearly plunged the country into civil war.

If the presidential election and an upcoming parliamentary vote in June run smoothly, the contingent of U.N. and Australian troops now keeping the peace in East Timor is scheduled to pull out of the country by the end of this year.

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