East Timor votes for president in test for young nation
Fretilin Party leader Francisco "Lu-Olo" Guterres, center, shows his inked finger after giving his vote during the presidential election at a polling station in Dili, East Timor, Monday, March 20, 2017. East Timorese went to vote Monday in the first presidential election since the U.N. officially ended the peacekeeping mission in the country in 2012. (AP Photo/Kandhi Barnez)
DILI, East Timor — East Timor is voting for a new president in an election that will test Asia’s newest and poorest nation.
Francisco ‘Lu Olo’ Guterres, a former guerrilla leader from the leftist Fretilin party, is up against seven other candidates Monday. He and the Democratic Party’s Antonio de Conceicao, the minister of education and social affairs, are the front-runners.
While East Timor’s president has a mostly ceremonial role, the prime minister heads the government.
Current President Taur Matan Ruak is not running again and is expected to make a run for prime minister in July’s parliamentary elections.
East Timor’s transition to democracy has been rocky, and its leaders have battled massive poverty, unemployment and corruption in a country still recovering from a bloody break for independence from Indonesia over a decade ago.