East Timor votes in second election in less than a year

Polls close after fractious campaign marred by violence and political mudslinging in East Timor.

    Voters in East Timor have cast their ballots in a second parliamentary election in less than a year after the collapse of a minority government.

    Polls closed at 3:00pm (06:00 GMT) on Saturday and preliminary results may not be known until the following day.

    A three-party alliance led by independence hero Xanana Gusmao's National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction party is vying against former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri's Fretilin party.

    Both sides in the election are promising economic development to reduce widespread poverty in East Timor.

    The election was called after the Fretilin-led government, which narrowly won the July 2017 poll, collapsed when its bid to introduce a policy programme and new budget were thwarted by a hostile opposition.

    The final days of campaigning were marred by violence when activists from Fretilin attacked supporters of Gusmao's party.

    But election day was "peaceful and organised", according to Dimitar Stojkov, a poll observer.

    "There has been heated rhetoric. However, that hasn't translated to any violence of any sort. We haven't noticed any major irregularities," he told Al Jazeera.

    Alkatiri said he expected his party to be sworn into government again.

    "Fretilin will be the winning party and will lead the new government again," he told reporters on Saturday in the capital, Dili.

    Whoever wins, the incoming government will face big challenges.

    East Timor's oil and gas reserves - revenues from which pay for the bulk of government spending - are disappearing fast, and the country has few other productive economic sectors.

    About 60 percent of East Timor's population is under 25, according to the World Bank, while some 40 percent of its people live in poverty.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies


    YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

    How different voting systems work around the world

    How different voting systems work around the world

    Nearly two billion voters in 52 countries around the world will head to the polls this year to elect their leaders.

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    How Moscow lost Riyadh in 1938

    Russian-Saudi relations could be very different today, if Stalin hadn't killed the Soviet ambassador to Saudi Arabia.

    The peace games: Dreaming big for South Sudan's youth

    The peace games: Dreaming big for South Sudan's youth

    A relatively new independence and fresh waves of conflict inspire a South Sudanese refugee to build antiwar video games.