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Timor-Leste Election Watch

Timor-Leste will hold parliamentary elections on July 7. A total of 21 political parties will compete for 65 seats in the unicameral National Parliament, officials said Friday.

All the preparations have been finished, said Cesarina Karceres, an official of the Technical Secretariat for Elections Support ( STAE).

A total of 880 polling stations in the 13 districts were set up across the country, including eight mobile polling stations six hospital polling stations and two prison polling stations, Karceres, who is in charge of public information, told Xinhua.

Timorese parliamentary members were elected by proportional representation for a five-year term. Citizens above 17 years old are eligible to vote, she said.

The elections will begin at 7 a.m., and close at 3 p.m.. Vote- counting will start soon after, with initial results of the elections expected as early as 8:30 p.m., Karceres said.

A total of 586 international observers from 33 international organizations and 2,618 Timorese observers from 46 groups will oversee the voting, she said, adding that the observers are free to go anywhere in the country, but each organization is asked to present a report at the end.

Following the parliamentary elections, the newly-elected President Taur Matan Ruak will appoint the leader of the majority party or majority coalition in the parliament as the prime minister, whom the executive power is overwhelmingly weighted towards.

Mobere, a 32-year-old fisherman, said he will go to vote the next day. “I hope the next government will make my life better,” he told Xinhua in a Dili beach.

Although 21 parties will contest in the elections, most of them are tiny parties with no chance to win a seat. Only two of them have a chance of winning the National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT) and the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (FRETILIN).

The FRETILIN is a leftist political party. It began as a resistance movement that fought for the independence of East Timor, first from Portugal and then from Indonesia, between 1974 and 1998. It formed the government in East Timor from 2002 until 2007.

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