Subject: RT: more uncertainty in poll run-off

Also ABC: East Timor faces run-off election; Fretilin accused of fraud in East Timor poll

East Timor faces more uncertainty in poll run-off

Wed Apr 11, 2007 9:55 AM BST 147

By Ahmad Pathoni

DILI (Reuters) - East Timor's presidential election was heading for a run-off on Wednesday between Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta and parliament's chief, adding to uncertainty in a nation still struggling to unite after a year of crisis.

Monday's polls were mostly peaceful but divisions in the young, dirt-poor nation run deep five years after independence.

A regional split erupted into bloodshed last May after the sacking of 600 mutinous troops from the western region. Foreign troops had to be brought in to restore order.

Ramos-Horta and parliament chief Francisco Guterres of the ruling Fretilin Party, also known by the guerrilla nickname "Lu'olo" he had during the fight against 24 years of Indonesian rule, were out in front, preliminary vote counts showed.

"The most probable situation is Mr. Lu'olo and Mr. Ramos-Horta will go to the second round," election commission spokesman Martinho Gusmao told reporters.

He had earlier said that 70 percent of votes had been counted but declined to give a new percentage, just saying the tally was based on 357,776 valid votes.

Roughly half a million voters were registered to vote in the former Portguese colony

Guterres, whose well-organised Fretilin Party has bigger support in rural areas, had 29 percent of the vote, while Ramos-Horta, a Nobel peace prize winner who spearheaded an overseas campaign for independence from Indonesia, had 23 percent, Gusmao said.

The Democratic Party's Fernando de Araujo, who was earlier neck-and-neck, had slipped back to 19 percent.

If no one wins more than half the vote, a run-off will be held on May 8.

Five candidates, including De Araujo, called for a recount, alleging widespread irregularities. They said they would not accept the result if their appeal was rejected.

"There are a lot of irregularities in this process and we want to tell the public we are not happy," said De Araujo.

EU ENDORSES VOTE

EU observer chief Javier Pomes Ruiz told a news conference that the election had mostly gone smoothly with a high turnout.

"The opinion of the EU observation mission in general is that the level of violence and intimidation is not enough to change the opinion of a peaceful and orderly process," said Ruiz.

The EU was the biggest foreign monitoring body.

The bespectacled Ramos-Horta, who has the highest international profile, said he was concerned that if Fretilin won it would show hostility to neighbours such as Australia.

"The Fretilin government has little sensitivity toward the region," he said. Ramos-Horta has said he would like Australian and other international forces to stay on longer in East Timor.

The socialist-leaning Fretilin, which was the main group in East Timor's fight against Indonesian rule, controls parliament. Ramos-Horta left it and became an independent when he was in exile.

Julio Thomas, a political analyst at the National University of Timor Leste, played down the prospect of immediate trouble.

"The prospect of violence even if Fretilin's candidate lost is minimum. But it will be more dangerous if Fretilin lost in the parliamentary elections (in June). There could be chaos."

Supporters of rival candidates clashed during campaigning last week, injuring more than 30 people and prompting international troops to fire tear gas and warning shots.

President Xanana Gusmao told reporters parliamentary elections would be held on June 30.

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ABC News Online

Last Update: Wednesday, April 11, 2007. 5:25pm (AEST)

East Timor faces run-off election

By Anne Barker

East Timor is heading for a second presidential election as official voting shows none of the eight candidates in Monday's poll has an outright majority.

With 70 per cent of the vote counted, the official tally shows three candidates are running neck and neck - Jose Ramos Horta, the Fretilin Party's Francisco Gueterres, or Lu Olo, and the Democratic party's Fernando de Araujo.

But more recent figures from election observers include key votes from big towns in the country's east, Bacau and Lautem, where Fretilin has its strongest support.

These figures suggest the Fretilin candidate is in front on about 27 per cent of the vote.

It is now certain there will be a run-off election next month, probably between Lu Olo and Dr Ramos Horta.

Who wins in the end will depend on supporters of the other six candidates.

Most of them are expected to vote for Dr Ramos Horta, but it could be very close.

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Last Update: Wednesday, April 11, 2007. 7:41pm (AEST)

Fretilin accused of fraud in East Timor poll

By Anne Barker

Candidates in East Timor's presidential election have complained of serious fraud in the ballot and are demanding a recount.

They are threatening to mount a court challenge if the complaint is ignored.

Five of the eight candidates have written a letter to the national electoral commission in Dili alleging serious irregularities in vote counting and intimidation of voters.

They have accused the ruling Fretilin Party of instilling a climate of terror and allege the number of ballots does not match the number of voters on election day.

The five candidates are demanding that all counting stop immediately, all ballot boxes be brought to one location in Dili and a recount begin in the presence of all candidates.

Fretilin has denied any dirty tricks during the campaign.

The official count so far puts three candidates neck and neck - Jose Ramos Horta, Fretilin's Francisco Gueterres, or Lu Olo, and the Democratic Party leader Fernando de Arauge.

Dr Ramos Horta, who is East Timor's Prime Minister, is among those calling for a recount.

But he says if he loses he will not challenge the result.

"If I don't appear in top two I will celebrate my electoral demise," he said.

"I will not spend energy and time challenging anyone."

The latest official counting confirms Lu Olo has a clear lead over Dr Ramos Horta.

Figures from the Nation Electoral Commission show Lu Olo has nearly 29 per cent of the national vote, with Dr Ramos Horta coming second on 22 per cent.

The commission says so far the votes have been counted only at the district level and will be counted again to confirm the national result.

If the result is accurate, there will be a run-off election between the two lead candidates in May.


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