Presidential vote count begins in East Timor

Election workers began tallying votes in East Timor's run-off presidential poll on Wednesday, with both candidates confident of victory in a contest seen as key to resolving bitter political rivalries in Asia's youngest and poorest nation. Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta, who won a Nobel Peace Prize for his nonviolent resistance to 24 years of Indonesian occupation, is tipped by most analysts to beat former resistance fighter Francisco "Lu-Olo" Guterres. Results are not expected until Friday. The leading local newspaper, Suara Timor Lorosae, projected a Ramos-Horta landslide with 75% of the vote, based on its own count at polling stations across the country. Its banner headline read: "Thanks Xanana, welcome Horta," a reference to the popular outgoing president, Xanana Gusmao. Election authorities estimated that voter turnout was 80% and said polling had been peaceful in the tiny country, which won independence in 1999 and a year ago descended into violence that killed dozens of people, drove 155,000 others from their homes and toppled the government.