Timor Leste constitution drafter says election shows progress as Francisco 'Lu-Olo' Guterres set to become president

Timor Leste constitution drafter says election shows progress as Francisco 'Lu-Olo' Guterres set to become president

Timor Leste constitution drafter says election shows progress as Francisco 'Lu-Olo' Guterres set to become president

Updated 24 March 2017, 18:15 AEDT

A lawyer who helped write Timor Leste's constitution says the way this week's presidential election ran demonstrates the country is growing as a nation.

A Timorese lawyer who helped draft Timor Leste's constitution says the way this week's presidential election ran demonstrates the country is growing as a nation.

It was the first election conducted by the Timorese without any direct assistance from the international community.

Former guerilla fighter Francisco 'Lu-Olo' Guterres, from the political party Fretelin, will be Timor Leste's next president, according to preliminary results.

Mr Guterres secured more than 57 per cent of the vote, while his main rival, Antonio da Conceicao, received a 32 per cent share.

A candidate needs more than 50 per cent to win in one round.

Aderito Soares, a former member of the Constituent Assembly, said the people of Timor Leste should be proud of their progress.

"I think the Timorese really deserve a big congratulations for their maturity," he told the ABC's Pacific Beat.

"I think they showed a maturity to exercise their political rights by casting their votes on the 20th and it went very peacefully … I'm very happy to see that."

The election commission is expected to confirm the results, which will be verified by a court.

The former Portuguese colony was invaded by neighbouring Indonesia in 1975.

A 24-year, often-violent, resistance movement achieved Timor Leste's independence in 2002 and many of its key figures still feature prominently in the running of the country.

Mr Soares, who is also the interim president of the New People's Liberation Party which backed Mr Conceicao, said it was exciting to see new political forces emerging in Timor Leste.

"Antonio did very well and it shows that there is a bit of a change in the mind of voters as well," he said.

"I think Antonio is a new generation from small political parties … I think in the previous election their Democratic Party only got 10 per cent, something like that, so I think it's a big jump."

The main concern among Timor Leste's 1.2 million people has been a failure to spread wealth from oil and gas revenues, with unemployment running at about 60 per cent.

Analysts said the challenge for any incoming government would be to wean the country away from reliance on oil money and diversify its sources of income into agriculture and manufacturing.

The energy sector accounted for about 60 per cent of GDP in 2014 and more than 90 per cent of government revenue.

ABC/Reuters