Apr 13, 2012

In Timor-Leste, an admirably free and fair presidential run-off

Monday’s runoff vote is another step in the reconfiguration of East Timorese politics, writes Michael Leach, associate professor in politics at Swinburne University, at Inside Story

Timor-Leste returns to the ballot boxes votes next Monday in the run-off election for president. Two candidates remain: the opposition party Fretilin’s Francisco “Lú Olo” Guterres, who received 28.7% in the first round; and Taur Matan Ruak, an independent running with the backing of prime minister Xanana Gusmao’s CNRT — the National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction — who received 25.7%.

In a notable achievement for Timor Leste’s two electoral bodies, conducting their first election without major international assistance, the first round was declared free and fair first by all observer missions. But participation, at 78%, was relatively low by East Timorese standards. Though officially down by just 4% on the previous election, there were documented problems with deceased and double registrants artificially inflating the rolls in 2007.

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