East Timor's prime minister and the head of the country's parliament will contest a presidential run-off next month, after none of the eight candidates in the April 9 ballot managed to win an absolute majority.
The election commission said on Wednesday that Jose Ramos-Horta, the premier, will face off against Francisco Guterres on May 8.
Guterres, also known as Lu'Olo, got 28 per cent of the vote, while Ramos-Horta, placed second with 22 per cent, said Faustino Cardoso Gomes, chairman of the National Election Commission (CNE), citing official provisional results.
The vote counting process had been marred by complaints of irregularities and technical errors.
"CNE has revised all the documents from all the vote centres in all the districts and provisional results show that Lu'Olo and Jose Ramos-Horta will go to the second round vote," Gomes said.
Gomes said the commission would hand over the results to the court of appeal and there would be a 24-hour period when candidates could lodge complaints.
Disputes and allegations
The April 9 polls were mostly peaceful but were followed by a stream of disputes and allegations over the way the process was carried out, prompting demands for a recount by five candidates.
|Guterres' Fretilin party dominates|
Timorese politics [AFP]
Election organisers were accused of failing to educate voters and train officials.
However, international monitors said the poll was generally open, orderly and peaceful despite fears of unrest after gang violence last year left at least 37 people dead.
"The opinion of the EU observation mission in general is that the level of violence and intimidation is not enough to change the opinion of a peaceful and orderly process," Javier Pomes Ruiz, the European Union's chief observer, said.
The drawn-out elections have raised concerns about fresh instability in the impoverished nation, still suffering from deep divisions five years after independence.
Guterres is a former resistance fighter and also president of the ruling Fretilin party, which rebels against Indonesian rule from 1974 to 1999.
Ramos-Horta, who won the Nobel prize for championing East Timor's cause during Indonesian occupation, has expressed concerns that a Fretilin victory would damage relations with other countries in the region.
"The Fretilin government has little sensitivity toward the region," he said of the party he founded as a resistance movement.
Along with the outgoing president, Xanana Gusmao - who will run for prime minister in June - Ramos-Horta has been hoping to end Fretilin's dominance of East Timorese politics.