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Voting begins in East Timor presidential election

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Voters in East Timor are heading to the polls to elect a president in a year marking the 10th anniversary of independence.

Voters lined up at polling stations on Saturday morning in the capital Dili. It is the 2nd presidential election since East Timor gained independence from Indonesia in 2002.

Incumbent and Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos Horta is seeking a 2nd term.

Rivals such as former military chief Taur Matan Ruak, and the head of the largest opposition Fretilin Party, Francisco Guterres, popularly known as Lu-Olo, are posing real challenges to the president.

Both played major roles in the struggle for independence.

UN peacekeepers are scheduled to end their security mission in the country at the end of this year. But East Timor is still struggling with poverty and public discontent is growing.

A voter in his 40s says the country faces many problems, such as a flagging economy and rampant corruption.

A mother in her 20s said she hopes the new president will unify the country and bring about peace and stability.

Vote counting will begin as soon as voting ends on Saturday. The result is expected to take several days.