Subject: Al Jazeera: East Timor PM to run for president


17:04 MECCA TIME, 14:04 GMT

East Timor PM to run for president

The prime minister of East Timor has told Al Jazeera that he plans to run for president in elections planned for April.

Dr Jose Ramos Horta, a founder member of the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor which fought Indonesian occupation, said he had taken the decision reluctantly and at the request of his supporters. "After a lot of hesitation, I have decided to run for the presidency. I will announce it shortly," he said in an interview broadcast on Thursday. "Many people have come to me; barefoot, illiterate from around the country, some without even my agreement began collecting signatures for me."

'Reluctant politician'

Ramos Horta said he had already consulted leading East Timorese politicians and religious leaders and won their backing.

"I have consulted with my president, Xanana Gusmao, consulted with the bishops and I have decided to accept the burden."

However, he also said that he would not be upset if he was rejected by East Timor's voters.


East Timor was invaded by neighbouring Indonesia in 1975 "If the people, in their centuries old wisdom, decide to vote for someone else, there are plenty of candidates right now. It is positive [that] there are so many candidates.

"If the people, in their centuries old wisdom, decide to vote for any of them other than me I will probably be the only candidate in the world for any job who will celebrate my electoral demise."

Popular candidate

Ramos Horta has long been a leading political figure in East Timor. His political career started when he was an activist against the Portuguese colonial government in the 1970s. After East Timor gained independence and was then invaded by Indonesia in 1975, he was East Timor's representative to the UN, travelling around the world to plead his country's case.

In December 1996, he shared the Nobel peace prize with Bishop Carlos Filipe Ximenes Belo for their efforts to win independence for East Timor.

Since East Timor became independent in 2002, he has served as foreign minister and minister of defence, before becoming prime minister in July 2006.

Source: Al Jazeera 

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