Subject: Xanana's campaign launch speech

KAY RALA XANANA GUSMÃO Ho Timor Oan Hotu, Ba Rai Timor Tomak



1 - Democracy

After so many years of resistance, we are, finally, reaching independence. But what does independence actually mean? Does it simply mean having a Constitution, a flag and national anthem, a President and Government? Other countries have had all these, for many years now, but their people continue to feel stripped of the benefits of independence.

After so much suffering, after enduring so much sacrifice, sanctioned and embraced by our people, what is it that the people of East Timor expect as a result of independence? If all we consider is the sector of economic development, we can argue that, in the 25 years of Indonesian occupation, there was a leap in the physical development of East Timor. Hundreds of kilometres of asphalted road, big buildings which our government is now making use of, hundreds of schools, health centres and hospitals. The list goes on.

For the sake of our own rights, we rejected all these economic aspects of development, because we strove to be free. Freedom means to build a democratic system enshrined with the respect for fundamental rights of Man, of the human being, of the individuals.

A democratic system, where the people feel free to air their views, as opposed to the long period of threats and persecutions which we endured, and also to the manipulation of information imposed upon the population. The public Radio and Television networks must be independent sources of information free from the practice of dissemination of opinions from some sectors only, a practice which shows a lack of professionalism and integrity.

The essence of democracy is the diversity of ideas and such diversity implies differences in points of views. If a person has and airs a different view, s/he must not be viewed as an enemy, which is how some politicians or militants of political parties see it, and sometimes behave.

As a foundation for all the democratic process in East Timor, it is fundamental that our Judicial System immediately adopts in thoughts and actions an approach which reflects the capacity to be free from politics. Thus, it is imperative that the Supreme Court of Justice, the Judges and Public Prosecutors project to the eyes of the people an image of total independence, and safeguard the rule of law, equally applied to everyone. As I emphasised, this is vital for the democratic process we are now building.

Freedom of opinion is enshrined in the Fundamental Human Rights: the Right of the individual to think, to believe, and to choose, without being subjected to either physical, psychological or political coercion or intimidation.

When all of us are required to think in the same way, we give away, all and each of us, our fundamental right to freedom of thought and expression. We become, once again, either slaves of an institutional majority or we return to dictatorship, where everything being decided by those on top is law. If this happens, then the sacrifices which each of us have embraced in these long years of struggle, would have been in vain.

Democracy will have to be incessantly lived and nurtured within the population. Democracy does not simply mean going to the ballot-box every five years. Democracy must be the oxygen we breathe in day-to-day living, from the small local communities to the big urban centres.

Freedom goes hand-in-hand with mutual respect. Respect for the rights of others, respect for the differences. The big parties cannot and must not think that their rights are worth more than the rights of smaller parties or that they are above the rights of other citizens. Whenever this occurs, it shows arrogance and the desire to manifest power. Now that we are entering the phase of independence, all of us, that is, all the people remember fully the use of power, the manipulation of power, which was precisely what we wished to eradicate from our country, and in doing so continuously died to be free.

In many countries, after the withdrawal of the colonialists, the sons and daughters of the land became the mirror-image of the system they fought against. Because power blinded them, they did not fight for the freedom of the people, nor did they fight for democracy, but for power. Even the name of our Republic is Democratic, but around the world one can see that the Democratic Republics are the least democratic. The fact that we have the word Democratic in the DRET, does not in itself mean that we can now rest in peace, believing that democracy has indeed extended its cover all over East Timor. We did not win the war simply because someone or a particular group made miracles. It was merely the inevitable product of the participation of the entire people, of all the groups within our society and of each Timorese.

The building of East Timor must be in every aspect of our lives (such as in political democracy, economic and social progress, strengthening of justice and cultural and moral development). And I repeat, the building of East Timor must be the work of all of us, through everyone's participation, while respecting the rights of everyone and the institutional responsibilities.

If I become President, one of my objectives shall be to contribute towards a healthy and strong civil society, to exert control over the work of government, since our Constitution alone cannot guarantee transparency and good management of the government, and, furthermore, as sub-clause (e) of Article 116 of the Constitution, could easily turn into a carte blanche for corruption. That is why, if I become President, I shall defend discipline in budgetary planning. And if I become President I will continue to promote civic education so that the people as a whole and each of us as Timorese know how to participate, consciously and on the basis of sound information, in the building of our nation.

2 - Stability

As we become better in our understanding of democratic values, and as we internalise these values in the respect for differences, of tolerance, then there will be harmony within our society, there will be peace in East Timor. Peace is not only the absence of war. We have to build peace in the soul of each Timorese. Each Timorese must no longer be afraid of each other, must not fear reprisal, must not fear being on the blacklist of a political group or government.

When each Timorese feels free to air an opinion and to choose, without feeling any sort of pressure, then each Timorese will really be living in peace.

Today, the youth face unemployment and this is one of our biggest concerns, and can be a source of social and even political instability. We must open the doors for investments, otherwise it would be difficult to provide appropriate employment for the youth. Today we observe enormous anxiety on the part of our youth to learn skills in computer technology and in English as if these were the only conditions to obtain a good job. Let us aim at breaking the mentality of 'office-only employment', so that we also can gain experience in other areas of economic development.

Stability is the pre-condition for investment, which means transfer of technology and capital into East Timor.

If I become President, I shall do everything within my capacity to promote foreign investment, within the realms of respect for the regulatory framework which safeguard national interests, so that the youth can look ahead towards their future, through their professional capacity and participation in the building of the nation.

3 - Development

There cannot be development without democracy. But the question is what is development and how can democracy make it happen?

Is it development when we turn Dili into a big city, with big hotels, with an influx of the population from other districts into Dili, when we all become dependent on kiosks and 'warungs'? We all know that only recently there was the consultation amongst the people about the people's aspirations for the development of our country. Although it was a short period of time, with added problems caused by the wet season and other technical difficulties, I salute the Coordinators and Facilitators of the Districts and Sub-districts for their magnificent work. I must also salute all those, young and the elderly, women and the illiterate, for giving me and all those involved, a big lesson.

However, it is important to distinguish between the strategic Vision for the national development plan, to which thousands of people had the opportunity to contribute, and the program of the Government for the gradual implementation of the plan. I must highlight here that the most valuable element in this consultation process was the establishment of a mechanism for consultation with the population, to ensure that the programs of the government do not stray far from the aspirations of the people. What do aspirations mean? They mean the desire to improve their lives in many aspects, and this is what we fought for.

The people want schools for their children, the people want to learn how to read and write, the people want medical assistance, the people want to be able to sell their produce, the people want potable water, the people want roads, the people want to have houses, and so on. Development, nowadays, means the reduction of poverty and this is precisely why all the people ought to be kept informed about the programs and initiatives of the government, without relinquishing their aspirations and vision for the future.

Thus, in the building of the nation, the participation of each and all of us is crucial. Let us eradicate the culture that 'the Government has all the answers', 'the Government is to make everything happen'. The Government is not an entity that knows everything, nor has the government the capacity to do everything. By the same token, we, the people as a whole, ought to embrace right now the principle that the Government cannot be the Big Boss nor the Father-Figure, on whom we depend for everything and from whom we ask for everything.

If I become President, I shall continue to encourage the people to be involved in an ongoing process of reflection about their own problems. I shall continue to encourage the importance of their aspirations being respected by those who are in government, not only those who make the laws, but also those who implement the programs.

In the same way, if I become President, I shall continue to encourage the participation of the Non-Government Organisations and of Civil Society as a whole, to provide responses to the needs of the rural and isolated population, to complement Government initiatives.

If I become President, I shall continue to encourage the involvement of the Civil Society in the debates, so that those in Oe-Cusse know about what the populations of Lautem and Atauro want, so that those in Suai understand about the difficulties faced by those in Vikeke, enabling everyone to understand the local and regional needs and the national priorities and I shall also encourage the private sector to be involved in the improvement of the living conditions of the population.


1 - National Unity

We won the war, not because of military capacity on our part, but through political means. And a fundamental political factor for such a victory to come about was National Unity. The civil war divided the Timorese, the ideologies divided the Timorese. And it was only through the National Unity with the aim of seeking freedom, independence for our Nation, we succeeded in overcoming the enormous and challenging difficulties we encountered in those long years.

After the victory of the 30th of August 1999, under the flag of CNRT, the truly unique symbol of National Unity, we started to nourish differences, we began to build on the diversity of ideas, the democracy. So what can be the meaning of National Unity under the present circumstances?

Under the present circumstances, National Unity means we are united under some supreme goals that will honour our previous sacrifices and will value the aspirations of the people. The people no longer wish to suffer, the people want to live in peace and harmony, the people want to look towards the future with hope. And all this constitutes the fundamental right of our people, as basic as the right to independence, the right to decide our own destiny.

To live in peace and harmony and to look ahead, towards the future with hope. In this, we must be united. If we go on bashing each other, if we go on damaging or destroying, if we go on provoking disturbances in the society, we will live in a climate of intimidation and terror and there will be no future for our country and our children.

We taught lessons to the world, in the past and present, although there are many who are thinking that they are the ones teaching us lessons. We shall continue to maintain our pride in being a small nation, simple but magnanimous, decisive and courageous. Magnanimous in facing our difficulties, decisive in building our lives, courageous in making decisions.

If I become President, not only as a symbol but, above all, as the safeguard of Unity of the State and the smooth functioning of the democratic institutions, I shall do everything within my capacity to permanently reinforce National Unity on the basis of the supreme aspirations of the People as a whole and I shall never allow the People to be subjected to suffering again, in their history.

2 - Reconciliation

Everyone knows my involvement in the process of Reconciliation. All those involved in this process, from all the Districts, know that it was not me, Xanana, who was going to reconcile, but it was the people, as individuals or as communities, of both sides, that instigated reconciliation. It was they, the players in the conflict, who made the move, who spoke to each other, who asked for forgiveness and who gave forgiveness. It was they who, from this end appealed for return, and from the other end, expressed the wish to return.

Firstly, on the issue of Reconciliation, it should be noted that some international organisations show the tendency to impose upon the process rules which are merely legal, without even trying to understand the core issues, as if it was they who have suffered, and not the Timorese, and that Timorese have feelings too.

Secondly, it is also notable that, within our society, there still are some people who, maybe because they did not feel in their own flesh or spirit the magnitude of the sufferings, concerns and feelings of the people, do not appreciate the process of reconciliation, and do not appreciate the return of our brothers and sisters. Just as the Constitution presents two classes of citizenship in our country (the 'original' and the 'acquired'), our fear is that we might continue to go on living with the ghost of 'pro-autonomy', placing some Timorese as citizens of 1st class and others as citizens of 2nd class.

But what do we want from Reconciliation? Our people continue to be very attached to traditions. Some we have only to take as cultural components of our identity, without having to practice them; others which also exist we will have to continue to preserve.

On the basis of these traditions, the bonding with the land, the family and the graves of our ancestors continues to have strong bearing in the return of our brothers and sisters and in the incentives for reunification. Also on the basis of these traditions, the return to harmony and the burying of the past constitute the factors which, combined with the political component of reconciliation, are the foundation for the process so far implemented.

The people are conscious of the need for reconciliation, but reconciliation does not limit itself to those who are known as 'pro-autonomy'. The concept of reconciliation ought to be well understood from its political and all-encompassing character, and I mean all-encompassing because there still are wounds to be healed into scars, in the mothers and fathers, widows and orphans and relatives, tagged before as traitors.

Peace does not only mean an absence of violence. Peace must mean a calming of the spirit, that people must have inner peace. In that sense, all the wounds still open due to the conflicts since 1975, must be properly healed, as the Constitution itself makes clear.

However, there cannot be total peace and harmony, if many of our brothers and sisters continue to be on the other side of the border. There will be no inner peace for our people as a whole, if some of us continue to be intolerant in relation to those who still continue to show their desire to return, so that they too can participate with us in the building of our country, which is also theirs.

We need a National Policy for Reconciliation. I do not defend a reconciliation based on hugs and tears. I defend reconciliation which is based on the return of everyone and based on the application of justice for those to whom justice ought to be done. I defend reconciliation based on the eradication of feelings of permanent hatred inside individuals, inside each Timorese citizen. I defend reconciliation through the energetic struggle against acts of personal revenge. Otherwise, we will continue to live in disharmony, when all of us should be concerned with looking to the future.

I proclaim justice to honour justice, and not as a political act of revenge. In our Constitution, the President has the power to grant pardons and to commute sentences, after consultation with the government, but it is up to the Parliament to grant amnesty. In both the one case and the other, the reference is to common crimes. And because the crimes committed in 1999, are not of the nature of common crimes, there is a need to discuss them from a political perspective.

Although I defended the term 'forgiveness' in the reconciliation meetings, I reject the term 'pardon' as a political act undertaken institutionally. I argue the need for the Parliament to approve an amnesty law, specifically related to the cases of crimes committed in 1999, and allow the President to consider amnesty, after the accused have been subjected to due process of law by the relevant Courts and have begun their jail terms.

If I become President, I shall openly embrace Reconciliation between the Timorese to create a climate of harmony and tolerance, so much needed now, so that we can face the difficulties of the future together, always with a smile of hope. If you vote for me, we shall together argue the need to adopt a National Policy on Reconciliation and we shall demand that the Parliament, which is only a transformation of the Constituent Assembly, adopts a law on Amnesty as I referred to above.


Being a small and newly-born nation, encountering huge difficulties to solve our problems in the near future, we, the Timorese, ought to know how to place East Timor in the world.

Since the beginning of the transition, I have always emphasised the importance of taking advantage of this period to learn to know ourselves, to know about our capacities and weaknesses, about the relations that East Timor has been building with the international community, with the donor countries and the international institutions.

If the people as a whole and, above all, the younger generation, continue to demonstrate, as they have been doing already, maturity in their understanding of the difficulties in the process of building a democratic State, embracing with firmness the universal principles of rights and liberties and the democratic values of tolerance and social harmony and if, on the other hand, the politicians and those in government are able to also show maturity and the understanding of the real problems and show good management in terms of administration, with clear policies to eradicate nepotism and corruption, we shall be confident that there will be ample support for the gradual but sustained development of East Timor.

These are the new circumstances of our national development. East Timor cannot continue to feel that it is the newborn babe of the international community. There are, unfortunately, many conflicts in the world, which are more difficult to solve and need even bigger financial contributions from the international community. And no one can be certain that there will not be other new conflicts arising in the world.

If the Government carries out its responsibility of good management and transparency, we, the people, shall support it so that we ensure a climate of stability, founded upon mutual respect and tolerance. Without this collective effort, we will face even more difficulties in the next five years.

If we are to be based strictly on the Constitution, 'in the field of international relations' the President only 'declares wars and makes peace, according to the authorisation of the Parliament', 'appoints and dismisses ambassadors', 'receives credential letters' and 'takes part in the process of negotiations towards international accords (only) in the areas of defence and security'. Nothing indicates that the President should have a role to play in the enhancement of close relations with neighboring countries or close relations with other countries, leaving only the emphasis on 'war' and in the 'defence and security'. It must be because of the trauma of war that some did not feel in their own flesh.

Since the President of the DRET lacks any jurisdiction, in the field of international relations, in the promotion of peace, friendship and cooperation between peoples and states, I do not wish to interfere in the jurisdiction of the Parliament and the Government, when presenting a perspective for East Timor in terms of its relations with the world, in its various geographical components: in its relations with America (the United States of America and Canada in the North, and Brazil in the South) in its relations with Europe, with the European Union and Portugal playing a leading role, in its relations with Africa and the Middle East, with the League of Arabic Nations, and the brothers and sisters of the Portuguese-speaking countries, in relations with Asia, where we find Japan and China, and in relations with the Pacific, where we also find New Zealand.

On the other hand, the Constitution also states that the President is defined as 'the guarantee of national independence'. When we talk about national independence, we are saying it in the context of all other countries of the world and not doing it and repeating it for our own ears. A guarantee of national independence will not come through war and accords on defence and security, as the most important elements, but through a diplomacy for peace, friendship and cooperation.

I want to bring to everyone's attention that East Timor exists between two colossal neighbours, Indonesia and Australia.

We share land borders with Indonesia, including the border of Oe-Cusse Ambeno. Australia, an industrialised nation, is our closest neighbour after Indonesia, and we share with it common maritime boundaries.

Australia shall continue to be, as it has been during the transition, an important partner in the process of development of East Timor.

In November 1999, we went to Jakarta to affirm that, for the Timorese, past is past and that the People of East Timor intends to build new relations, focusing on the future, on peace, friendship and cooperation with Indonesia. I am absolutely sure that we did express the most profound aspirations of our People, I am certain that the people as a whole regarded and still does regard the 25 years of occupation as an historical mistake, reflecting the world politics of the past.

We have proved, in these two and a half years of transition, to the State of Indonesia and to our brothers and sisters of the Indonesian people, our firm willingness to develop closer friendly relations and cooperation, to consolidate peace. If we say that reconciliation between the Timorese is important to achieve a climate of peace and harmony in East Timor, a priority of good neighbouring relations should be directed towards Indonesia.

Let us wipe out all sorts of ill feelings so that we can further increase awareness, within certain sectors of the Indonesian society, of the understanding that our struggle was for a just cause. We fought to win our freedom, not to create enemies; we fought to honour our dignity, not because they were Indonesians.

If I become President, I shall do everything within my capacity to clear all types of mistrust from our political good will and I shall do everything within my capacity to contribute towards a climate of mutual understanding and cooperation with the State of Indonesia. We also embrace the principle of non-interference, of respect for the national sovereignty and integrity and permanent dialogue.





DILI, 15 MARCH 2002.

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