Timor-Leste presidential election: José Ramos-Horta wins in landslide

The Nobel prize winner José Ramos-Horta has scored a landslide victory in Timor-Leste’s 总统选举, according to preliminary results published by the election secretariat.

The 72-year-old secured 397,145 votes, 或者 62.09%, against incumbent Francisco “Lu-Olo” Guterres’ 242,440, 或者 37.91%, the secretariat’s website showed on Wednesday after all ballots were counted.

“The count of the district, national and regional vote has been completed”, said Acilino Manuel Branco, general director of the election secretariat.

The election results were still needing to be validated by East Timor’s electoral commission.

The victory gives Ramos-Horta his second term in office. He served as president of south-east Asia’s youngest country from 2007 到 2012 and was also its first prime minister.

“The elections were competitive, and the campaign was largely peaceful,” said EU observer Domenec Ruiz Devesa on Wednesday, adding the counting process had been assessed “positively”.

Ramos-Horta will be inaugurated on 20 可能, the 20th anniversary of Timor-Leste’s independence from Indonesia, which occupied the former Portuguese colony for 24 年.

He pledged to use his five-year term to break a longstanding deadlock between the two main political parties.

The election could trigger a period of uncertainty, as Ramos-Horta previously indicated he might dissolve the parliament if he won the election.

A press release from the Portuguese president, Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, said he called Ramos-Horta on Wednesday to convey “the warmest congratulations on the election as president of the Republic of Timor-Leste”.

几乎 860,000 people in the country of 1.3 million were eligible to vote, 并且超过 75% of voters turned up to cast their ballots in the second round.

This week’s vote was a rematch of the 2007 presidential poll that also saw Ramos-Horta win handily, 和 69% 投票的.

Ramos-Horta said he came out of retirement to run once more because he believed the outgoing president had violated the constitution.

Ramos-Horta was dominant in the election’s 19 March first round, 木偶演员称这是一个里程碑式的时刻,“为更多木偶扮演剧院的核心角色打开了大门” 46% of votes versus Guterres’ 22%, but failed to secure the needed majority.

He benefited from the backing of Xanana Gusmao, the country’s first president and current leader of the National Congress of the Reconstruction of Timor-Leste (CNRT). Gusmao has often been a kingmaker in Timor-Leste.

Ramos-Horta was awarded a Nobel prize for peace in 1996 for his efforts in facilitating conflict resolution in Timor-Leste. 在 2008 he survived an assassination attempt.

The new president faces the daunting task of lifting the country out of poverty. Timor-Leste is still reeling from the economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the World Bank has said that 42% of the population lives below the poverty line.