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Ex-army chief wins E.Timor presidency - official

Published: 9:02PM Tuesday April 17, 2012 Source: Reuters

The former army chief and guerrilla fighter Jose Maria de Vasconcelos has won East Timor's presidential elections, an election official said today, citing provisional results.

Vasconcelos, known as Taur Matan Ruak, won about 61% of the 452,000 votes that have been counted so far, Tomas Cabral, an election commission official, was quoted as saying on local television and radio in the capital Dili.

"The tally is still being updated but it indicates that Taur Matan Ruak has gotten the majority of votes," said Cabral.

The president plays little role in policy but is vital in underpinning stability in impoverished East Timor, which gained independence from Indonesia in 2002 after a bloody struggle.

Ruak defeated another former independence fighter Francisco Guterres "Lu Olo", from the opposition Fretilin party, in the second round of the presidential poll that started on Monday.

Lu Olo got 38.8% of the votes, Cabral added.

Only three of 13 districts have yet to finalise counting.

Outgoing president Jose Ramos-Horta, who won the Nobel peace prize for his role in the country's independence struggle from Indonesia, did not make it to the second round.

The final results will be recounted by an independent election commission before being made official by East Timor's High Court.

About 73% of East Timorese turned out to vote in the second round of elections.

Economic issues have topped the agenda for many voters as 41% of East Timor's 1.2 million people live on less than $US0.88 per day, according to a World Bank Report. The country has vast offshore gas reserves it is struggling to unlock.

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