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Jose Ramos-Horta tops votes in East Timor presidential election


But amid a bitter standoff between main events in which governing coalitions have collapsed, Xanana’s CNRT might want him to return the favour for supporting his run for president. It is now in opposition and regards the present coalition authorities led by Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak as illegitimate.

“Whoever [the president] is will face the initial challenge of bringing Timor’s fractious political parties together,” stated Professor Michael Leach, an knowledgeable in East Timor politics at Swinburne University of Technology.

“If it is Ramos-Horta, he is under pressure from the people who backed him to dissolve parliament. [The next] election is due a year from now in 2023 but the CNRT want an early election.

“The countervailing pressure that he would be under is that the president is the head of state and needs to bring the whole country with him and bring the country together. Dissolving parliament would be politically controversial, so that’s something the president needs to manage, the formation of government.”

Incumbent East Timor President Francisco Guterres casts his vote.

Incumbent East Timor President Francisco Guterres casts his vote.Credit:AP

Leach believes Xanana’s backing of Ramos-Horta signifies he aspires to reclaim the prime ministership. His return to that put up would allow him to renew a push to develop the Greater Sunrise oil and gasoline fields with the $18 million Tasi Mane mission that hit the skids two years in the past.


In East Timor’s semi-presidential system, the president doesn’t have coverage powers however can dissolve parliament and veto laws and the appointment of ministers, as Guterres did after the final parliamentary elections in 2018, rejecting a number of names put ahead by the CNRT.

In an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in December, Ramos-Horta said he had been lobbied by thousands of people to contest the presidential election.

“I’m not looking for a job. I’m not looking for a salary,” he stated. “[But] people have been very frustrated with the last three, four years of political uncertainty and of inaction to re-energise the economy.”

While Ramos-Horta was properly forward in the provisional tally, that will not be a assure of success in a recent two-horse race to resolve the presidency.

“The second round dynamics are interesting,” Leach stated.

“What happens is that all of the 14 eliminated candidates would be asked by the two remaining candidates to endorse their campaign.”

East Timor’s subsequent president might be sworn in on May 20, the anniversary of the restoration of independence from Indonesia in 2002.

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