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Ramos-Horta sworn in as East Timor PM

July 9, 2006

By Lirio da Fonseca

DILI (Reuters) – Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jose
Ramos-Horta was sworn in as East Timor’s new prime minister on
Monday, a move aimed at ending weeks of political crisis in
Asia’s newest nation.

President Xanana Gusmao swore in Ramos-Horta under the
watchful gaze of rifle-carrying Australian commandos who have
led a 2,500-strong international peacekeeping force in East
Timor.

Both men, architects of East Timor’s independence from
Indonesian rule, then put their signatures to paper to cement
the appointment.

Ramos-Horta, dressed in a dark suit and no tie, took his
oath in the presidential office accompanied by two deputy
premiers, Estanislau da Silva and Rui Araujo.

He promised to channel more funding to the poor.

“The people will not need to stand in line to get the money
but it will go through aid to develop and lift the poor Timor
Leste people for the better,” he said in a speech, referring to
the country’s official name.

He told a news conference later his cabinet would be sworn
in and start their work this week.

“We will work very hard,” he said, pledging to work with
the World Bank to accelerate development in rural areas.

East Timor descended into chaos nearly three months ago
when former premier Mari Alkatiri sacked about 600 members of
the 1,400-strong army when they protested against
discrimination.

Gusmao named Ramos-Horta, 56, premier on Saturday, around
two weeks after Alkatiri stepped down after being broadly
blamed for violence in the tiny Pacific nation in recent weeks.

When rival factions of the army and police clashed, the
violence spiraled into an orgy of arson and looting that only
ended with the intervention of Australian-led peacekeepers.

At least 20 people died and 100,000 were displaced in the
violence.

ALKATIRI NOT AT CEREMONY

The swearing in ceremony was witnessed by various officials
and dignitaries, but was not attended by Alkatiri.

Prosecutors have said they intend to question the former
prime minister over his alleged role in the violence.

An Australian TV documentary last month linked him and
other Fretilin leaders to an alleged plot to arm a civil
militia.

One East Timor political leader said at the weekend
Ramos-Horta could face opposition from a section of Fretilin,
the dominant party with 55 seats in the 88-member parliament.

The head of the Millennium Democratic Party, Hermenegildo
Lopes, also told Reuters Ramos-Horta’s effectiveness would be
limited by Gusmao’s decision to name two deputy premiers.

Ramos-Horta, a spokesman abroad during East Timor’s
struggle to gain independence from Indonesia and then foreign
minister since it won nationhood in 2002, is not a Fretilin
member.

Ian Martin, a U.N. special envoy, who arrived in East Timor
about two weeks ago to assess the country’s need for further
U.N. assistance, has welcomed Ramos-Horta’s appointment, saying
he hoped it would usher in peace and stability in the young
nation.

He told reporters he would present a report to
Secretary-General Kofi Annan on a possible new U.N. mission as
East Timor prepares for a 2007 election.

East Timor was a Portuguese colony for centuries before a
revolution in Lisbon in 1975 gave the territory a brief taste
of independence. Indonesian troops invaded a few days later and
Jakarta annexed East Timor in 1976.

After a 1999 vote for independence marked by violence
blamed largely on pro-Jakarta militia with ties to the
Indonesian army, an international peacekeeping force moved into
the territory, ushering in a transitional period of U.N.
administration before East Timor became a fully-fledged nation
in 2002.

(Additional reporting by Achmad Sukarsono and Diyan Jara)


Source: reuters



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