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July 24, 2017

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Australia warns of post-election political violence in East Timor

SYDNEY -- Australia warned Monday of civil unrest in East Timor following last week's parliamentary election in which Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao's party gained the most votes but not enough seats in parliament to form government on its own.

Tension flared as Gusmao set about forming another coalition that would keep him in office and exclude the main opposition party.

The Australian Foreign Ministry said it had received reports that one person had been killed and two injured in post-election violence.

In the capital Dili more than 50 cars were reported damaged as supporters of the Fretilin party vented their fury at the likelihood of being again denied a place in the government.

Gusmao's CNRT party won 30 seats in the 65-seat Parliament against 25 for Fretilin, and persuaded two of its former coalition partners to again help it form government.

Australia warned of unrest in Baucau and Viqueque as well.

"Post-election political tension may continue while results are finalized and a new government is formed," the ministry said.

Only four parties won the 3 percent of votes needed to qualify for a seat in parliament, making Gusmao's task easier than after the 2007 election produced a five-member coalition.

Official results from the July 7 vote are expected this week.

Fretilin formed government on its own after the half-island's first election in 2002, but was eased out of office in 2006 after civil unrest that prompted the return of international peacekeepers.

Two rounds of elections for a new president passed off peacefully in March and April.

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