Vote counting underway for the presidential elections in Timor-Leste

Residents of Timor-Leste, formerly known as East Timor, cast their ballots in a presidential election on Saturday.

There were a record 16 candidates, including incumbent Francisco Lu Olo Guterres and former President Jose Ramos-Horta, who was one of the leaders of the country’s independence movement and won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 .

There were four candidates.

At a polling station in the capital Dili, people lined up to vote.

The Southeast Asian island nation gained independence in 2002, after being under Portuguese and then Indonesian rule for more than 400 years.

After independence, Japan helped build the country.

Since then, its infrastructure, such as roads and ports, has been built with increasing investment from China.

The country remains heavily dependent on the energy industry, particularly natural gas.

It is said that about 30 percent of the population lives in poverty, which causes people’s dissatisfaction.

A 22-year-old voter said the government was still not working well after 20 years.

A 43-year-old woman said she wants the new president to create jobs for young and unemployed people like her.

Local media say Guterres, who calls for the promotion of agriculture, and Ramos-Horta, who aims to attract foreign investment, enjoy popular support.

The counting of the votes has been underway since the closing of the polls at 3 p.m. local time.

A runoff between the top two contenders will take place next month if neither candidate wins a majority in the first round.