19 Mar 2012

East Timor leader loses re-election bid

10:17 am on 19 March 2012

East Timorese president Jose Ramos-Horta has lost his bid for a second term, failing to make it to the run-off in the country's second presidential vote as a free nation, according to provisional results.

Results from a count of 68% of the vote show Dr Ramos-Horta running third in Saturday's poll, the ABC reports.

He did not have the backing of a major party in the election and lost the support of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao and his National Congress for the Reconstruction of East Timor (CNRT) party who backed a rival candidate - former military chief Taur Matan Ruak.

Dr Ramos-Horta is expected to make a concession speech on Monday.

The results so far show no candidate will gain the absolute majority which would be needed to win in the first round.

The two leading candidates, Taur Matan Ruak and the Fretilin Party's Francisco Lu-Olo Guterres, will compete in a second round of voting on 16 April.

Dr Ramos-Horta, a popular leader who survived a 2008 assassination attempt, said on Saturday that if he was not re-elected he would have "to struggle to choose what to do".

The 62-year-old added that he had a long-standing commitment to a Western literary agency to write a book.

Mr Ramos-Horta won the Nobel peace prize for his role in the long fight to win independence from Indonesia in 2002.

East Timor, the eastern half of an island at the eastern end of the vast Indonesian archipelago, became independent after nearly 20 years under Indonesian control. Before that it had been a Portuguese colony.