Nobel Peace Prize winner Ramos-Horta wins the presidential elections in East Timor

East Timorese presidential candidate José Ramos-Horta shows his ink-stained finger after voting in Dili on April 19, 2022. afp_tickers

This content was published on April 20, 2022 – 11:29


Nobel Peace Prize laureate José Ramos-Horta won the presidential election in East Timor, according to partial official results announced Wednesday by the authorities.

Ramos-Horta, who already led the country between 2007 and 2012, obtained 62.09% of the votes in the second round, compared to 37.91% achieved by his rival, outgoing president Francisco “Lu Olo” Guterres, according to indicated the electoral secretariat on its website.

These results still need to be validated by the country’s electoral commission.

The 72-year-old politician was already the most voted in the first round held on March 19, with 46% of the votes compared to 22% for Guterres.

He is scheduled to begin his five-year term on May 20, the 20th anniversary of East Timor’s independence after 24 years of Indonesian occupation.

In this country of 1.3 million inhabitants, located in the eastern half of the island of Timor, in the Indonesian archipelago, the presidential function is above all honorary.

But this time, Ramos-Horta promised that if he won the elections, he would “open a dialogue” between the two main parties — the National Congress for the Reconstruction of East Timor (CNRT) and the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (Fretilin). – to put an end to the political paralysis in which the country is plunged.

– Political crisis –

Guterres, 67, a former guerrilla and leader of the Fretilin party, was elected president in 2017 with the support of former rebel Xanana Gusmao, the country’s first president and current head of the CNRT. But he then refused to appoint CNRT ministers, unleashing a political crisis.

But this year, Gusmao and his party decided to promote Ramos-Horta, who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 for his search for a peaceful solution to the conflict in East Timor, then under Indonesian occupation.

Ramos-Horta, who was prime minister before presiding over the country between 2007 and 2012, returned to active politics to oppose Guterres, whom he accuses of having violated the Constitution.

Political life in East Timor has often been peppered with violence.

In 2018, a series of clashes during the legislative elections caused dozens of injuries, and in 2006, political rivalries degenerated into open conflict in the capital, Dili, in which dozens of people died.

This time, the observation mission of the European Union (EU) considered that the presidential elections had been carried out satisfactorily. “The elections were competitive and the campaign was largely peaceful,” he concluded.

Both candidates promised to respect the result of the election.

East Timor was a Portuguese colony until 1975. After that, it was bloodily occupied by Indonesia until its independence in 2002.

The country’s economy continues to suffer the consequences of the covid-19 pandemic.

According to the World Bank, 42% of its population lives in poverty.

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Nobel Peace Prize winner Ramos-Horta wins the presidential elections in East Timor