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Timor-Leste Election Won by Jose Maria Vasconselos

April 20, 2012
Jose Maria de Vasconcelos wins East Timor presidential election. (REUTERS-Lirio Da Fonseca)

Jose Maria de Vasconcelos wins East Timor presidential election. (REUTERS-Lirio Da Fonseca)

By Jose De Sousa

Jose De Sousa, known as Quico, is the SFCG Country Director in Dili, Timor-Leste. He sent us this blog post as a follow-up to his pre-election post which you can read here.

Jose Maria de Vasconcelos, also known as Taur Matan Ruak, won a second round election held this Monday, the 16th of April. Vasconcelos won over 61% of the 449,827 valid ballots counted, compared to 38% obtained by his rival, former independence leader Francisco Guterres, known as Lu Olo. Vasconcelos, 56, and Guterres, 58, were partners in the guerilla war against the Indonesian troops that occupied East Timor after the withdrawal of Portugal from this former colony in 1974.

Once again, the Timorese set a good example of a peacefully-run election. Nearly 73.2% of the 627,295 registered voters went to the polls in the second round and there were no major incidents reported across all thirteen of the districts. This has raised people’s confidence that the general elections scheduled for July 7th will be deemed free and fair and without violence.

Media played an important role during the election processes, although much information was spread without valid sources. Some press commentators deliberately pushed an agenda and the media needs greater rumors-management training in order for them to provide valid information to their audiences.

I’ve noticed and believe in the maturity of my fellow Timorese in accepting the result of the election. Generally, people are accepting it and believe in the political arena of democracy. Of course, there is some disappointment as only one can stand as winner, but this will serve as a lesson for the other candidate and his constituents to work harder in the future. I’ve also seen great participation of the young people throughout the election.

The next big test for this country will come in July with the Parliamentary election. If things go smoothly then, it will show that Timor-Leste can stand on its own feet after the withdrawal of the UN mission.

To learn more about SFCG’s work in Timor-Leste, visit our country webpage.

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