04/12/2007, 00.00
EAST TIMOR

Presidential elections: some candidates complain of irregularities as the country prepares for a two

Five candidates call for a halt to vote counting until the process can be secured with other observers present. According to partial results Horta and Guterres should square off next May 8.

Dili (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Five candidates in East Timor's presidential poll filed a formal complaint yesterday, saying it was not fairly conducted and that counting should be stopped immediately.

In a letter to the National Election Commission (CNE), the United Nations and outgoing President Xanana Gusmao, they cited a climate of intimidation and terror as a reason for their action, demanding that counting be stopped to be resumed only when secured and legal in the presence of candidates and other observers.

“We can disclose evidence that the process is not fair," said Democrat Party candidate Fernando ‘Lasama’ de Araujo, who came in third place.

“We demand that the National Election Commission recount the votes. We have found clear manipulation during the count,” said Lucia Lobato, the only female candidate. “If the CNE doesn't listen to our demand we will not accept the result of the elections.”

With more than 70 per cent of ballots counted, Mr Ramos Horta was trailing Mr Guterres of the Fretilin party by 20,000 votes, with each having less than 30 per cent of the vote, far short of the 50 per cent plus one needed to win outright.

Under the circumstances, it is probable that Horta and Guterres will contest the run-off vote on May 8.

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