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Monday, 15 April, 2002, 05:41 GMT 06:41 UK
East Timor count begins
Counters tally votes in the East Timor presidential election
About 380,000 votes have to be sorted
Counting has begun of ballots cast in East Timor's historic presidential election.

About 380,000 people - 86% of registered electors - voted for the man they want to become president of East Timor when it becomes a country on 20 May.

Independence hero Xanana Gusmao is expected to win by a landslide.

Xanana Gusmao (left) and his only challenger, Francisco do Amaral
Francisco do Amaral (r) says he is only standing to give the voters a choice
His only opponent in the good-natured election, Francisco Xavier do Amaral, has said he expects to lose but wanted to give voters a choice.

Sealed ballot boxes were taken from polling stations to district counting centres where they were opened before local and international monitors.

Preliminary tallies should be available later on Monday, but the final results will be announced on Wednesday.

Key facts:
  • President to serve for five years
  • New parliament already elected
  • Independence on 20 May
    See also:
      Profile of East Timor

  • The choosing of a president is the final step to nationhood for East Timor, which voted for independence from Indonesia in 1999. It has been ruled by first Portugal and then Indonesia for centuries.

    Chief electoral officer Carlos Valenzuela proclaimed the vote a success, after provisional estimates suggested a turnout of 86%.

    Voting started slowly on Sunday morning but picked up significantly as people went to polling stations after attending church to celebrate Mass.

    The two candidates went together to their polling station in a school in the capital Dili and embraced before casting their votes.

    Polling stations had been due to close at 1600 (0700 GMT) on Sunday, but electoral officials said voters already in the queue were still allowed to cast their ballots after this time, as had been agreed earlier.

    The BBC's Richard Galpin in Dili says the election went ahead very smoothly, with no reports of any serious trouble.

    The BBC's Richard Galpin in Dili
    "Everyone is predicting Gusmao will win by a massive margin"
    Presidential candidate Xanana Gusmao
    "I hope I will be able to do something for them [the people]"
    East Timor representative to the UK Jose Diaz
    "Gusmao is our national hero"
    See also:

    14 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
    Gusmao set to win Timor vote
    04 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
    Gusmao calls East Timor refugees home
    09 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
    Wiranto attacks Timor trials as 'unfair'
    26 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
    Australia pledges $3m to East Timor
    25 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
    E Timor, Indonesia sign accords
    21 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
    East Timor launches truth commission
    12 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
    Eyewitness: East Timor's road to recovery
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