East Timorese head to polls in presidential election | News | DW | 16.03.2012
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East Timorese head to polls in presidential election

Asia's poorest and youngest state, East Timor, went to the polls early Saturday for presidential elections.

Incumbent President Jose Ramos-Horta goes up against 11 other contenders, with key challenges set to come from the Fretilin party's Francisco "Lu Olo" Gueterres and former armed forces chief Taur Matan Ruak.

Parliamentary elections in East Timor - also known as Timor-Leste - in 2007 were marred by violence. According to reports, polling stations were peaceful this time, as hundreds of voters cued early Saturday in the capital, Dili.

Ramos-Horta, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996, has been president since 2008. The presidency is seen as a largely ceremonial role, but the status of the post has been boosted since the 62-year-old came to power.

Ramos-Horta also served as East Timorese prime minister for a short spell in 2006-07.

In May, the chronically unstable nation of around 1.1 million inhabitants celebrates 10 years of independence after enduring a brutal 24-year occupation by Indonesia, which invaded following the nascent country's declaration of independence from former colonial ruler Portugal in 1975.

dfm/ch (Reuters, AFP)