07 July 2012

Polls close in East Timor's parliamentary election

East Timor Legal News Source: Radio Australia 7 July 2012, 16:13 AEST - Polls closed at 3pm local time (4pm AEST) with around 645,000 registered voters eligible to cast their ballots.

The United Nations sees the elections as the last big test that will decide whether its remaining 1,300 peacekeepers and other security staff can withdraw as planned within six months.

Thousands of East Timorese had returned to their hometowns to vote in the parliamentary polls.

No absentee voting meant people were asked to make the trip for a second time in four weeks, after last month's presidential vote.

The long journeys along rough roads, to remote villages, many without electricity, are expected to reinforce the development of infrastructure as a deciding factor in the poll.

There are concerns violence in the emerging democracy may reignite if, as predicted, none of the 21 parties wins a parliamentary majority and a fragile coalition takes power.

"It's very likely that no single party will get a majority because East Timor has a proportional system and as a result we won't know who's the next government for up to two to three weeks after we know the party results as they go into the horse-trading period for a multi-party government," Professor Michael Leach, an analyst at Swinburne University says.

East Timor's presidential polls which were held over two rounds in March and April were peaceful.

Xanana Gusmao, a charismatic figure and a resistance hero during the struggle for independence, is fighting to stay on as prime minister.

Image added by ETLJB

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