East Timor: as UN tallies votes, early results show Gusmão with overwhelming lead

East Timor: as UN tallies votes, early results show Gusmão with overwhelming lead

UN staff counting ballots from Sunday's presidential election
With virtually all ballots in East Timor's first-ever presidential elections counted today, preliminary results show independence leader Xanana Gusmão holding an overwhelming lead, United Nations electoral officials announced today.

With 12 of the territory's 13 districts completing the vote tally today, the UN Transitional Administration's (UNTAET) chief electoral official, Carlos Valenzuela, cautioned that despite the late stage of the counting process, no official statement has been made on the outcome of the election.

Final national results will be announced on Wednesday, and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Board of Commissioners - a majority of whom are East Timorese - will certify the official results on Sunday, 21 April.

So far, Mr. Gusmão has won 11 districts and a total of 267,615 votes while Legislative Assembly Vice President Francisco Xavier do Amaral has captured one district and a total of 57,536 votes.

After all the ballots were accounted for during the first phase of the counting process, the official number of total votes was determined to be 378,538 - or 86.2 per cent of the estimated voter population.

Of that total, 336,955 votes have been counted, according to UNTAET. The last remaining district, Baucau, was expected to be finished counting by midnight. The number of invalid votes in the 12 counted districts was 11,804, compared to 325,151 valid votes.

Party and candidate agents and independent electoral observers have been present at all 13 counting centres. In the case of four ballot boxes found with broken seals yesterday, the IEC Board considered related evidence and determined that there had been no tampering. Initial reports suggested the seals had inadvertently broken during transport.