Bangkok, Mar 19 (EFE).- Voting for the presidential elections in East Timor commenced Saturday, with some 860,000 eligible voters choosing from the largest pool of candidates till date in the small Southeast Asian nation.
The polling stations opened at 7am local time and have since registered a “high influx” of voters, European parliamentarian Domenec Ruiz Devesa, head of the European Union Electoral Observation Mission Timor-Leste 2022, told EFE.
“The polling booths are functioning normally. We have not received information about complaints or protests. They are well organized elections, with adequate material and staff,” said the Spanish politician, who leads the 20-member observation team that will visit 150 schools during the day.
Political veteran and nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta and current President Francisco “Lu-Olo” Guterres are the favorites to win the elections.
Apart from these two, there are 14 other candidates in the fray, including four women and several budding student leaders.
The president has a give year term, and although most powers wielded by the prime minister, the former can veto laws and appoint the head of government.
East Timor, which will celebrate 20 years of independence on May 20, faces high levels of poverty and a worrying youth unemployment rate, coupled with the negative economic effects of the pandemic.
The polling stations will close at 3pm and the first results are expected to come in late Saturday or on Sunday, which will not be official until much later next week.
If no candidate wins 50 percent of the votes, a runoff will be held on Apr. 19 between the two candidates with the highest number of votes. EFE