Subject: SMH: Home Exorcised as Ramos-Horta Prepares to Return

also Ramos-Horta returns to E Timor next week

The Sydney Morning Herald

Monday, April 14, 2008

Home Exorcised as Ramos-Horta Prepares to Return

Lindsay Murdoch in Dili

THE house where East Timor's President, Jose Ramos-Horta, was shot and seriously wounded has been cleansed of evil spirits in a centuries-old Timorese ritual before his return to Dili this week.

Mr Ramos-Horta's relatives held the ritual after he decided to defy security advice and return to the thatched-roof house he built on a hill overlooking Dili harbour.

The ritual, which involved killing a chicken, allowed the spirit of the rebel leader, Alfredo Reinado, to leave peacefully. Reinado was killed during attacks on the house on February 11.

Security officials strongly advised Mr Ramos-Horta not to return to live in the house, which is in an isolated area. But he insisted, reluctantly agreeing to increased protection from foreign troops and Timorese soldiers.

Mr Ramos-Horta's office announced at the weekend he will return on Thursday to what is expected to be a hero's welcome, before addressing parliament.

Villagers who live near the house have white-washed trees, rocks and signposts along the narrow road leading to the house.

They have also spent days filling in potholes by hand, trimming trees and planting bushes ahead of Mr Ramos-Horta's arrival.

"The villagers are excited about the president's return," said Paulo Remedios, a presidential adviser who was also Reinado's lawyer.

The Government in Dili has backed the villagers' efforts by bringing in heavy roadbuilding machinery, which has been working day and night to repair roads before his arrival.

In Dili, banners over main streets declare "Mr President, Timor prays and waits for you".

Mr Ramos-Horta has spoken about how emotional it will be to return to the house where he lay bleeding for more than 30 minutes before help arrived.

"I wouldn't shoot a dog or a pig in that way," he said, recovering at a private residence in Darwin.

Although still often in pain, Mr Ramos-Horta has made clear in interviews with the Herald he has no intention of quitting the presidency and will demand answers to questions about the attacks which plunged the country of 1 million into renewed crisis.

Fretilin's general secretary, Mari Alkatiri, warned that any further delay in seeking the truth "risks arousing further instability in our nation and erodes the goodwill of the international community towards Timor-Leste".

Thousands of Timorese are expected to be at Dili's airport for Mr Ramos-Horta's arrival.

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Ramos-Horta returns to E Timor next week

JAKARTA, April 12 AAP - East Timor's President Jose Ramos-Horta will return to the tiny country next week for the first time since he was gunned down outside his Dili home.

The Nobel Laureate was evacuated to Darwin on February 11 after he was shot by armed intruders, many of whom are still on the run.

East Timor Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao escaped uninjured from an attack on his convoy a short time later.

The president's office today confirmed he would return to East Timor next week.

"After 65 days of medical treatment in Darwin, Australia, following the incident on February 11th, President Dr Jose Ramos-Horta will return to Timor-Leste on 17th April," it said in a statement.

Mr Ramos-Horta, 58, is recovering in a private house in Darwin, following his release from hospital.

He plans to hold a press conference immediately on his return, and also plans to attend Sunday Mass and address the national parliament.

His return comes after speculation he was preparing to quit the presidency, which was later rejected by his office.

Mr Ramos-Horta took over as East Timor's prime minister amid a wave of violence in 2006 which killed 37 and forced thousands to flee their homes for refugee camps.

He was elevated to the presidency of East Timor in a landslide election win a year ago, and has been key in efforts to stabilise and develop the tiny nation.


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