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article imageTimor: Two ex guerrilla fighters face off in 2nd round of voting

By Alessio Fratticcioli     Mar 19, 2012 in World
President Jose Ramos-Horta appears to have lost his bid for re-election as East Timor's President, with two ex guerrilla fighters to face off in another round of voting.
Nobel peace laureate Ramos-Horta, a key figure in East Timor politics since 1999, admitted poll defeat and congratulated his rivals after the first round of the country's presidential election.
He said he would hand over power "with my conscience completely at ease, because I will be handing over a country that is different from the one I received first as prime minister in 2006 and as president in 2007".
Ramos-Horta served as foreign minister, prime minister and eventually president from 2007.
Opposition figure Guterres and former armed forces chief Taur Matan Ruak -- both heroes of the tiny nation's long resistence war against Indonesia's occupation -- will face a run-off on 21 April.
Guterres appears to be leading with 27.3 per cent, while Ruak follows with 24.2 per cent.
Guterres is the President of the Left-wing Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (FRETILIN) party. He was also President of the National Parliament of East Timor from 2002 to 2007. He is a Roman Catholic who already run for the presidency in 2007, when he was defeated in the second round.
Taur Matan Ruak (Tetum for "Two Sharp Eyes") was also a guerrilla figther before becoming commander of the FALINTIL-Forças de Defesa de Timor-Leste (F-FDTL), the Military of East Timor. He stepped off on October 6, 2011.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today congratulated the people of East Timor for demonstrating their commitment to democracy and peace by participating peacefully in presidential election. Ban said he was heartened that yesterday's election was conducted in an atmosphere of order and calm.
“The Secretary-General commends the national authorities, particularly the Technical Secretariat for Electoral Administration and the National Electoral Commission, for organizing and supervising the polling, and the National Police of Timor-Leste for their role in maintaining a stable environment,” said a statement issued by his spokesperson.
East Timor declared itself independent from Portugal in November 1975, but was invaded and occupied by Indonesian forces ten days later. During the subsequent 24-year occupation the country suffered a high number of conflict-related deaths.
East Timor regained independence after a UN-sponsored referendum and the deployment of an International Force in 1999.
After 3 years of UN administration, East Timor was internationally recognised as an independent nation on 20 May 2002.
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