Bangkok, Mar 21 (EFE).- Veteran politician and Nobel peace prize laureate José Ramos-Horta claimed victory in the first round of Timor-Leste’s presidential election with 46% of the vote, falling just short of the threshold needed to avoid a run-off in April.
His nearest opponent, current president and former guerilla fighter Francisco ‘Lú-Olo’ Guterres obtained 22.3% of the vote in the young and impoverished country’s fifth presidential election Saturday.
Ramos-Horta, who survived an assassination attempt in 2008, was foreign minister from 2002 to 2006, head of government from 2006 to 2007 and president from 2007 to 2012.
The president has fewer prerogatives than that of the prime minister, although they elect the head of government and can veto laws.
These elections are seen primarily as a power struggle between the country’s major parties.
Timor-Leste, which will celebrate 20 years of independence from Indonesia on May 20, faces high levels of poverty and a worrying youth unemployment rate, coupled with the negative economic effects of the pandemic.
The second round of voting is due to take place on April 19 and the next president will be sworn in on May 20. EFE