East Timor Majority Party Leads

DILI, (AFP) - East Timor Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao's party looked set to win this weekend's parliamentary elections, a key test for the young and fragile democracy, preliminary results showed Sunday.

His centre-left National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT) won 36.6 percent of the votes in Saturday's poll, likely to determine whether UN peacekeepers can leave by the end of the year, an official tally showed.

But it was unclear whether his party would need to form a coalition, and there are concerns violence could be reignited in the energy-rich but impoverished state if there is drawn-out wrangling to form a government.

The main opposition left-wing Fretilin party was in second place with 29.8 percent, according to a preliminary count of 100 percent of the votes released by the electoral commission.

The Democratic Party (PD), a member of the current ruling coalition, won 10.3 percent of the vote, according to the tally. Final results were not expected for several days.

The electoral commission gave no indication of how many seats in parliament each party had won.

While the results indicated that Gusmao's five-year term could be extended, it was unclear whether his party would be able to govern alone. The United Nations sees the polls; and their aftermath, as the last big test that will decide whether its remaining 1,300 peacekeepers and other security staff can withdraw as planned within six months.

Presidential polls that were held over two rounds in March and April passed off peacefully, and there has been no major violence linked to the parliamentary polls.

In the last legislative elections in 2007 Fretilin won 21 of the total 65 seats, or 29 percent, while the CNRT won 18 seats, or 24 percent. But the CNRT won out in the post-election horse-trading to lead a coalition government with three smaller parties.

It remains to be seen whether the CNRT, which has the support of President Taur Matan Ruak, will be able to wrest an absolute majority of 33 seats or whether it will have to cobble together a coalition.

Wrangling over a coalition generated weeks of tensions after the 2007 elections.

Following the end of Portuguese rule in 1975, East Timor was occupied by Indonesia for 24 years. Some 183,000 people died from fighting, disease and starvation before the half-island state voted for independence in 1999.

The country has offshore fields of oil and natural gas and its Petroleum Fund has swelled to $10 billion, but corruption is endemic.

Half of East Timor's 1.1 million people are officially classified as living in poverty, posing the main challenge for the future government.

''The biggest risk is poverty,'' Ruak said Saturday after casting his vote.

CNRT campaigned on a platform of longer-term investment on major infrastructure projects such as roads, electricity and water.

Fretilin, which is synonymous with the pro-independence struggle, has campaigned on a populist platform of spending oil revenues to lift income and education levels.

The elections are a test of whether East Timor, which celebrated a decade of formal independence in May, is ready to take on its own security.

A 450-strong International Stabilization Force (ISF); made up of troops from New Zealand and Australia, is also awaiting the outcome of the poll before finalizing a pullout.

The United Nations Integrated Mission in East Timor (UNMIT) -- with a total current military, police and civilian force of about 3,000; was deployed in 2006, after a political crisis in which dozens were killed and tens of thousands displaced, with a mandate to restore security.

The 66-year-old prime minister, whose birth name is Kay Rala Gusmao, is a charismatic hero of the resistance.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • High spirits battle: Asia tycoons vie for cognac maker Louis Royer

    * Louis Royer valued at about $150 mln - sources * Suntory selling cognac maker as part of portfolio reshuffle * Asia cognac demand seen rising 13 pct in 2015-19 -Euromonitor (Adds graphic link) By Denny Thomas and Khettiya Jittapong HONG KONG/BANGKOK, May 30 (Reuters) - Thai billionaire Charoen Sirivadhanabhakdi is considering buying cognac maker Louis Royer, people familiar with the matter said, potentially locking horns with a Philippine tycoon for the French firm amid a forecast …

  • OIC asked to complete review of peace pact with MNLF
    OIC asked to complete review of peace pact with MNLF

    The Philippine government is asking the 57-nation Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to finally complete the tripartite review process of the implementation of the 1996 peace agreement with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). The review – snagged  for several years as government had its hands full with the peace process with rival faction Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) – tackles how the 1996 peace pact with the MNLF has been implemented and centers on the three remaining …

  • Alleged Binay dummies appear in Senate probe
    Alleged Binay dummies appear in Senate probe

    Eight of the resource persons ordered arrested by the Senate finally attended the 21st public hearing of the Senate Blue Ribbon subcommittee into the alleged anomalies involving Vice President Jejomar Binay, but the proceedings turned out to be a review of matters previously presented. For over three hours, the subcommittee heard presentations regarding the alleged hidden assets of Binay and the issue regarding the supposed P200 million in kickbacks he received from a deal between the Boy …

  • DOJ wraps up Mamasapano probe
    DOJ wraps up Mamasapano probe

    The Department of Justice (DOJ) is wrapping up its investigation into the “massacre” of 44 members of the Philippine National Police Special Action Force (PNP-SAF) in Mamasapano, Maguindanao last Jan. 25. A joint team of prosecutors and NBI (National Bureau of Investigation) investigators is about to finish the second part,” Justice Secretary Leila de Lima has told congressmen. She was responding to questions raised by former senior police officer and now Rep. Samuel Pagdilao of party-list …

  • APEC meet in Bataan seen to boost tourism
    APEC meet in Bataan seen to boost tourism

    BALANGA CITY, Bataan – More than 2,000 delegates of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) and international media outfits are expected to enjoy the splendid coastline of Bagac town, which faces the West Philippine Sea, as they converge for a workshop in this province next month. …

  • DOST opens P54-M research facility
    DOST opens P54-M research facility

    A P54-million research and development facility of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) was recently opened in Bicutan, Taguig for scientists and researchers to develop technology and techniques to allow Filipino fashion and clothing designers and manufacturers to produce more mainstream products from local, tropical fabrics like piña, banana and abaca. Science Secretary Mario Montejo said the Innovation Center for Yarns and Textiles (ICYT) is the DOST’s flagship effort at reviving …

  • DFA worried about alleged violations of convicted Pinoys’ rights
    DFA worried about alleged violations of convicted Pinoys’ rights

    Philippine embassy officials in Doha have raised their concern with Qatari authorities over coercion and human rights violations in the alleged forcing of three Filipino workers convicted of spying to provide information and confess to the crime. Speaking to reporters, Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) spokesman Charles Jose yesterday said the embassy has raised the matter during several high-level meetings with Qatari officials and the national human rights committee in Qatar. “Our embassy …

  • US affirms ‘ironclad’ promise to defend Phl
    US affirms ‘ironclad’ promise to defend Phl

    US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told his Philippine counterpart on Wednesday that Washington’s pledge to defend the Pacific nation remains “ironclad” and called for an end to land reclamation in the South China Sea, officials said. In talks in Hawaii with Voltaire Gazmin, Philippine secretary of national defense, the Pentagon chief “reaffirmed” the strong ties between the two countries and discussed territorial disputes in the contested waters of the South China Sea, where Beijing has been …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options