In January, after half a year of political gridlock, Timor-Leste's president Francisco “Lu Olo” Guterres set the date for its 730,000 registered voters to head to the polls. This would be the second time they have since last July's election, which saw a standoff between the minority government of popular freedom fighters turned political party Fretilin, headed by the country's original post-independence Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, and the National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT), led by charismatic revolutionary Xanana Gusmao.

Fretlin received just 0.2% more votes than CNRT to claim victory in last year's election, but fell short of a the required seats to govern. CNRT, which had previously formed a de facto coalition with Fretilin, refused to reform government, leading to the impasse.