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East Timor, Asia's Youngest Democracy, Votes for President

  • Associated Press

East Timor presidential candidate Francisco Guterres of the FRETILIN party shows his ink marked finger after he casts his ballot during the presidential election in Dili, East Timor, March 20, 2017.

East Timor is voting for a new president in an election that will test Asia's newest and poorest nation.

Francisco "Lu Olo" Guterres, a former guerrilla leader from the leftist Fretilin party, is up against seven other candidates Monday. He and the Democratic Party's Antonio de Conceicao, the minister of education and social affairs, are the front-runners.

East Timor presidential candidate Antonio da Conceicao from the Democratic Party (R) arrives to cast his ballot during the presidential election at a polling station in Dili, East Timor, March 20, 2017.
East Timor presidential candidate Antonio da Conceicao from the Democratic Party (R) arrives to cast his ballot during the presidential election at a polling station in Dili, East Timor, March 20, 2017.

While East Timor's president has a mostly ceremonial role, the prime minister heads the government.

Current President Taur Matan Ruak is not running again and is expected to make a run for prime minister in July's parliamentary elections.

East Timor's transition to democracy has been rocky, and its leaders have battled massive poverty, unemployment and corruption in a country still recovering from a bloody break for independence from Indonesia over a decade ago.

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