Nobel laureate Ramos-Horta leads East Timor vote

Nobel laureate Ramos-Horta leads East Timor vote

Candidate for President Jose Ramos-Horta gestures as he casts his ballot during the second round of presidential elections in Dili on April 19, 2022. Early results of the vote showed that AFP DILI independence leader and Nobel laureate Jose Ramos-Horta has taken a decisive lead in the second and final round of East Timor's presidential election.

Timorese voters went to the polls in the half-island nation of 1.3 million on Tuesday, between Ramos-Horta and ex-guerrilla fighter President Francisco Lu Olo Guterres.

With almost half of the votes counted, Ramos-Horta had a commanding lead of 59 percent, while Lu Olo had 41 percent, according to data from the country's election administration body STAE Ramos-Horta, 72, is one of East Timor's best known political figures who previously served as prime minister and then as the country's second president from 2007 to 2012, according to data from the country's election administration body STAE Ramos-Hort

He was a co-recipient of the Nobel PrizeNobel Prize in 1996 for his efforts to bring a peaceful resolution to the conflict in East Timor when the country was occupied by Indonesia.

He narrowly missed out on an outright majority in the first round of the election in April. An Australian academic calculated that he needed just 30,000 more votes to secure victory in Tuesday's second round.

Ramos-Horta said he was very confident he would win but would honour the final results after voting near his home in Dili.

After years of political tensions between major parties, the election has been widely viewed as a crucial part of the nation's stability. Ramos-Horta suggested he could use presidential powers to dissolve parliament and call for early elections, which is currently scheduled for next year.

East Timor's first president, Xanana Gusmao, is backing Ramos-Horta in this election and has described the current government as constitutionally illegitimate. Lu Olo, the incumbent, refused to swear in several ministers from Gusmao's political party on the grounds that they were facing ongoing legal investigations, including for alleged corruption.

The next president will be sworn in on May 20, the 20th anniversary of East Timor's restoration of independence.