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With over 60% of the votes counted, Taur Matan Ruak and the Fretilin Party's Francisco 'Lu-Olo' Guterres have taken the lead.
East Timor's president Jose Ramos-Horta has failed to make it to the run-off, according to provisional results in the country's second presidential vote since gaining independence.
The first round of voting took place on Saturday. Associated Press says that the official results won't be announced until Tuesday, but with more than 60% of the ballots counted, Ramos-Horta did not have the support needed to advance to the second round scheduled for April and was trailing in third place.
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The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reports that Ramos-Horta is expected to make a concession speech on Monday.
It adds that the early results showed no candidate would have the absolute majority needed to win the first round outright.
The Press Trust of India's correspondent in the East Timorese capital Dili said that Francisco "Lu Olo" Guterres was in the lead with 28%, followed by the former military chief, Taur Matan Ruak, on 25%, while Ramos-Horta had only 18%.
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Guterres, who's Fretilin part is synonymous with the resistance, lost the presidency to Ramos-Horta in a run-off in 2007, the Bangkok Post explains. Ruak, meanwhile, campaigned in fatigues and is in the run-off despite being accused by the United Nations of illegal weapons transfers in 2006.
Ramos-Horta, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, said on Saturday that if he was not re-elected he would have "to struggle to choose what to do", News 24 reports.
The 62-year-old had added that he had a long-standing commitment to a Western literary agency to write a book.