Sunday, April 08, 2007

East Timor: Voting is taking place under tight security. (AFP)

Last Update: Monday, April 9, 2007. 11:28am (AEST)

East Timor: Voting is taking place under tight security. (AFP)

Polling booth queues grow in E Timor
By Anne Barker

In East Timor there are long queues outside polling booths as 500,000 voters elect a new president.

Many voters arrived long before the polls opened at 7:00am local time.

Voting has been slow, with hundreds queuing at most booths, but only a handful of officials to distribute voting material.

Electoral observers say they are pleased with the turnout and the election mood.

Despite sporadic clashes in recent weeks between rival political groups, today appears to be peaceful.

An official result will not be known for days, but candidates hope to have unofficial word on a winner even tonight.

The ruling Fretlin Party is certain of winning an outright majority today, but experts predict a run-off election in May between the top two candidates.

East Timor's Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta has cast his vote.

He was applauded by about 30 other voters when he arrived at the polling station in the capital Dili this morning.

Dr Ramos-Horta is amongst eight candidates in the running to replace President Xanana Gusmao, who is stepping down.

Fretlin candidate Lu Olo was also amongst the first to vote this morning.

This is the first presidential election since East Timor gained independence from Indonesia in 2002.

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