Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Xanana's big announcement

(Backtrack to 1999. Xanana Gusmao and the author. Gusmao had just been released from gaol in Jakarta.. but was still being held under house arrest in Jakarta. I had just conducted an interview with the East Timorese leader.)

East Timor's politics has suddenly got very interesting indeed with President Xanana Gusmao announcing he's ready to become the troubled country's prime minister, after he ceases to be head of state.

Gusmao will not seek re-election in
East Timor's presidential election on April 9th - instead he intends to join a newly formed political party after the vote.

"By becoming prime minister, there will be hope for change for the people. I will seek to improve everything," he has told AFP. During many past interviews, Gusmao has confided he has no stomach for leadership and would rather be a pumpkin farmer.

East Timor's current premier, Jose Ramos-Horta, is the favourite to win the presidential election. After that, a legislative poll is supposed to follow, but a date for it has yet to be set.

As a guerilla leader, Gusmao fought Indonesia's 24-year occupation of East Timor
and enjoys hero status amongst his people.

Ramos-Horta spent the entire Indonesian occupation in exile as leader of the country's independence movement and won the Nobel Peace Prize for his work.

The two men could end up swapping their current jobs if elections go their way.

But expect fierce campaigning from East Timor's biggest political party, Fretilin, and regrettably expect more violence.

No comments: