Former East Timor military chief Ruak wins presidential elections

DILI, TIMOR-LESTE (BNO NEWS) — Former East Timor independence fighter José Maria Vasconcelos, who is better known as Taur Matan Ruak, has won Monday’s run-off presidential election, officials at the National Electoral Commission (CNE) said on Tuesday.

Vasconcelos, 55, the former commander of the Armed Forces of National Liberation of East Timor (FALINTIL) which fought against the Indonesian occupation of the island from 1975 and 1999, faced former national parliament president Francisco Guterres.

According to preliminary results released by the CNE on Tuesday, Vasconcelos won more than 61 percent of the vote with some 452,000 ballots – or approximately 98 percent of all ballots – counted. His opponent Guterres, who is also known as Lu Olo and won the first round on March 17, gathered some 38 percent of the vote.

After Monday’s run-off election, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and his top envoy in East Timor, which is formally known as Timor-Leste, congratulated the people of the country for the ‘peaceful and orderly’ election process.

“The peaceful and orderly manner in which the people of Timor-Leste exercised their right to vote, reflects once again their commitment to stability, democracy and national unity,” Ban’s spokesperson said in a statement, which also reiterated the continued UN support for the upcoming parliamentary election in July.

Ban’s Special Representative in East Timor, Ameerah Haq, reported that the second round went off ‘very smoothly’ after visiting five polling stations. U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner also congratulated East Timor and said the election appeared to have been ‘free and fair.’

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