DILI - Two veterans of East Timor's long struggle for independence vied for the presidency on Monday in the second round of an election in which voters said they were most concerned about stability and improving the economy of Asia's poorest state.

Former independence fighter Francisco Guterres "Lu Olo", from the opposition Fretilin party, narrowly won the first round in March 17 polls. He faces Jose Maria de Vasconcelos, known as Taur Matan Ruak, a former army chief and guerrilla.

The president plays little role in policy but is vital in underpinning stability in East Timor, which gained independence from Indonesia in 2002 after a bloody struggle and has vast offshore gas reserves it is struggling to unlock.

Hundreds of people lined up in the sun at polling stations across the country, which makes up half of the island of Timor.

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