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Timor-Leste holds presidential elections


Timor-Leste holds presidential elections

Timor-Leste holds presidential elections. Photo: David Webster

Timor-Leste holds presidential elections today.

While the prime minister exercises most executive power in Timor-Leste, the president has some limited prerogatives, including dissolving parliament. This year’s election includes sixteen candidates, the most ever. An historic four women are running, along with many young, independent candidates.

The two leading hopefuls are sitting President Francisco Guterres of the FRETILIN party and former president and Nobel Prize Laureate José Ramos-Horta. Horta has the support of Timor-Leste’s influential first president, Xanana Gusmão, and his party, CNRT.

For the last five years, conflict between FRETILIN and CNRT has pervaded the government, with CNRT claiming Guterres has acted unconstitutionally and FRETILIN accusing Horta of being an incompetent leader. Political tensions between the two sides have economically and politically stalled the oil-dependent country, causing limited governmental and social instability.

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100,000 first-time voters are expected to cast ballots today, voting on economic issues – particularly infrastructure and human capital investment as well as economic diversification – instead of historic connections to independence leaders. Early polls suggest that Horta will win; however, if he cannot secure more than 50% of the vote, there will be a run-off on April 19.

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