The East Timorese voted Saturday in parliamentary elections that will likely result in another coalition government taking charge of one of the region’s poorest nations.
Independence war hero Xanana Gusmao will be hoping to again seal alliances that will allow him stay on as prime minister of the tiny half-island to Australia’s north.
If the contestants accept the election outcome gracefully, what for 400 years was a Portuguese colony could finally become fully self-governing with the withdrawal of foreign forces.
A UN peacekeeping force that was invited back in after police and soldiers began shooting each other in 2006 could be gone by the end of the year if the current calm prevails.
Also making their departure could be the 400 Australian and New Zealand troops stationed in East Timor, which voted for independence from Indonesia in a 1999 referendum.
The UN took charge in 1999 after a scorched earth policy by departing Indonesian troops left the impoverished country in ruins.
Keywords: East Timor polls