Independence hero Xanana Gusmao wins East Timor elections

Sydney, Australia, May 23 (EFE).- East Timor’s opposition party, led by former rebel and independence hero Xanana Gusmao, won parliamentary elections held over the weekend, according to provisional results published on Tuesday.

The National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT) led Sunday’s ballot with 41.6 % of the votes, while incumbent coalition leader the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (Fretilin) under another former rebel leader, Mari Alkatiri, secured 25.7% of the vote share, according to the National Elections Commission.

The remaining votes were shared among 15 smaller parties.

The CNRT won 31 of the 65 seats in parliament, just two short of a majority, meaning Gusmao will have to negotiate with other parties to form a government.

If Gusmao garners enough support, he will replace on June 12 outgoing prime minister Jose Maria Vasconcelos, winner of the 2018 elections.

Nearly 900,000 citizens of East Timor, also known as Timor Leste, were called to vote in Sunday’s elections.

Politics in the country has been dominated by the leaders of the movement that gained independence from Indonesia.

Gusmao, 76, is the hero of Timor’s independence and became the nation’s first president between 2002-2007. He also served as prime minister between 2007-2015.

CNRT won the presidential elections held last year with Nobel Peace laureate Jose Ramos-Horta.

The prime minister in East Timor acts as the head of government and has more legislative power than the president who takes on the role of the head of state.

If Gusmao secures a governing majority he will face several key challenges in his five years in office, including dwindling oil and gas reserves, corruption, high levels of unemployment and poverty.

One of Gusmao’s top electoral pledges was developing the Greater Sunrise oil and gas project which could give East Timor 70% of revenues if gas is piped to Timor and 80% if the gas is piped to Australia.

The young republic, which turned 21 on Saturday, is also looking to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) later this year, which would make it the bloc’s eleventh member.

East Timor was violently occupied by Indonesia between 1975 and 1999.

In 1999, East Timor held a United Nations-sponsored independence referendum which was overwhelmingly backed by the population.

Despite a violent clampdown launched by Indonesian forces against pro-independence groups, Timor achieved its independence on May 20, 2022. EFE


Related Articles

Back to top button