|Subject: AP/RT/AFP: JRH sworn in
Associated Press Online
May 20, 2007
Nobel Laureate Is Timor's 2nd President
DILI East Timor
Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta was sworn in as East Timor's second president on Sunday, vowing to unite the desperately poor nation just over a year after violence brought down its first government.
Ramos-Horta was sworn in by Francisco "Lu-Olo" Guterres, the head of parliament whom he beat convincingly in elections earlier this month.
"I swear in the name of God and the people ... to consolidate freedom and national unity with all the energy that I have," Ramos-Horta said.
Campaigning in the tiny nation bordering Indonesia was largely peaceful and Ramos-Horta's decisive victory has led to hopes of an era of peace and stability following violence last year that killed 37 people and brought down the government.
The country will held parliamentary elections next month that will determine who will be the country's next prime minister, a more powerful job than the largely ceremonial presidency.
East Timor broke free from decades of often brutal Indonesian rule in 1999 following a U.N.-sponsored ballot. Retreating Indonesian troops and loyalist militias destroyed much of the country, which was administered by the United Nations until it became Asia's newest nation in 2002.
The country descended into chaos a year ago after the then-prime minister dismissed 600 soldiers, a move that split the armed forces into factions and later spilled over into gang warfare.
East Timor swears in Ramos-Horta as new president
Sun May 20, 2007 2:54AM EDT
By Tito Belo
DILI (Reuters) - Nobel peace laureate Jose Ramos-Horta, East Timor's newly elected president, took the oath of office at a simple ceremony in Dili on Sunday, succeeding Xanana Gusmao as leader of the young nation.
Ramos-Horta, who spent years abroad as a spokesman for East Timor's struggle for independence from Indonesian occupation, took nearly 70 percent of the vote in the May 9 election run-off.
His victory has raised hopes of greater stability in a nation still struggling to heal divisions five years after it won independence from Indonesia.
Ramos-Horta, 57, vowed to guarantee East Timor's stability at the swearing-in, held at the heavily guarded national parliament building. The two-hour ceremony was attended by parliament members, diplomats and Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda.
"I will ... obey the constitution to guarantee national unity and the stability of the nation," said Ramos-Horta, dressed in a formal jacket.
"As a new president ... I will follow the steps of outgoing president Xanana Gusmao to realise peoples' dreams ... I will find a way to end the crisis in the country."
In a speech delivered in four languages -- East Timor's national language Tetum, Portuguese, English and Indonesian -- Ramos-Horta urged street gangs to end all violence "because it just destroys the nation".
Violence erupts sporadically in East Timor, but the run-off between Ramos-Horta and parliament chief Francisco Guterres, president of the dominant Fretilin party, went off peacefully.
Clashes between gangs and martial arts groups have erupted recently, but East Timor was calm just before the swearing-in with local and U.N. police stepping up patrols.
Ramos-Horta took over as prime minister last year from a Fretilin leader who had been blamed for failing to control riots that spun into deadly violence in which some 30 people died.
Indonesia annexed East Timor in 1975 after long-time colonial power Portugal had set it free.
Pictures at the time show Ramos-Horta, an anti-colonial journalist and activist under Portuguese rule, as a fatigue-wearing rebel with bushy black hair.
Today, with his short graying hair and spectacles, he has an almost academic air.
Although he shares revolutionary roots with the Fretilin party, Ramos-Horta has taken an increasingly independent path and is seen as somewhat more friendly than Fretilin stalwarts to international investment and the West.
Fluent not just in Tetum but in Portuguese, Spanish, French and English, Ramos-Horta lobbied foreign leaders to highlight East Timor's plight under Jakarta's often brutal rule.
He won the Nobel Prize in 1996 and returned to East Timor in 1999 after two decades abroad.
East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia in a violence-marred referendum in 1999. It became fully independent in 2002 after a period of U.N. administration.
Agence France Presse
May 20, 2007 Sunday
Ramos-Horta sworn in as ETimor president
DILI, May 20 2007
Nobel Peace Prize winner Jose Ramos-Horta was sworn in as East Timor's president on Sunday after winning a landslide election victory earlier this month.
Ramos-Horta took the oath of office during a ceremony at parliament house in the capital Dili, attended by Indonesian Foreign Minister Hassan Wirajuda and his Portuguese counterpart Luis Filipe Marques Amado.
"I swear to God, in the name of the people and for the sake of my honor, that I will duly exercise my functions, implement and abide by the constitution and the law and dedicate all my energy and capacity to the defence and consolidation of freedom and national unity," he said.
Ramos-Horta won 69 percent of the vote in the election, the first since East Timor gained its independence in 2002 following a bloody separation from Indonesia three years earlier.
The people of East Timor are hopeful that he will be able to usher in a new era of peace and stability for the impoverished former Portuguese colony.
During the ceremony, outgoing president and close ally Xanana Gusmao signed documents handing over power to the parliament before they were transferred to Ramos-Horta.
A declaration from East Timor's court of appeal that the May 9 election results were official was also read out.
Guests then sang the national anthem "Patria Patria".
Gusmao, the popular former guerrilla leader, did not contest the election for the largely ceremonial job of president, and will instead run for the more powerful post of prime minister in next month's parliamentary polls.