DILI: Polls opened in Timor-Leste on Saturday (Mar 19), as Asia’s youngest nation held its fifth presidential elections since independence, with considerations over political stability and financial safety on the forefront.
The 16 presidential hopefuls embrace former resistance fighter and incumbent President Francisco “Lu Olo” Guterres in addition to independence determine and Nobel laureate Jose Ramos-Horta and a former Catholic priest.
At polling cubicles within the capital Dili, Timorese donned masks and queued patiently as they waited to vote.
“We must choose a new generation so that we can build this country,” stated one voter, Jorge Mendonca Soares, 42, of his want for change.
While the nation’s independence figures nonetheless dominate the sphere, for the primary time there are additionally 4 feminine candidates, together with deputy prime minister Armanda Berta Dos Santos.
A latest ballot by the nationwide college confirmed that Ramos-Horta, 72, former defence forces commander Lere Anan Timur and Guterres are the favourites.
Polls shut at 3 pm with early indicators of who’s main the vote anticipated to come back late Saturday.
If no candidate wins an outright majority, the vote will proceed to a run-off on Apr 19 between the highest two contenders.
Approaching twenty years since independence after the top of a brutal occupation by Indonesia, Timor-Leste has for lengthy spells struggled with political instability.
After the final elections in 2018, Guterres refused to swear in some ministers from the National Congress of the Reconstruction of Timor-Leste (CNRT), a political celebration led by former prime minister Xanana Gusmao.
The transfer led to an ongoing political stalemate.
Ramos-Horta, who’s backed by Xanana’s CNRT celebration, stated earlier this week he was working as a result of he felt the present president had “exceeded his powers”.
In Timor-Leste’s political system, the president appoints a authorities and has the ability to veto ministers or dissolve parliament.
During a latest election debate, Guterres pledged to make sure peace and stability, defend Timor-Leste’s sovereignty and observe the structure if he gained a brand new time period.
Heavily depending on dwindling provides of oil and fuel, financial diversification and the function of younger voters have additionally been key election points, with an estimated 20 per cent of voters reaching the voting age of 17 and casting their poll for the primary time.
First-time voter Marco de Jesus, 17, stated he felt nervous however relaxed after assist from polling workers.
“I feel proud to have carried out my function as a voter,” he stated, talking outdoors a polling station on Dili’s waterfront.
“I hope my choice can bring positive and useful change.”