Timor Loro Sae: Xanana Gusmao presidential candidate

The historic leader of the East Timorese resistance, Xanana Gusmao, whose heroic stand against the armed forces of Indonesia led to his country’s independence, is to stand as a candidate for the presidency of Timor Loro Sae, formerly East Timor.

Backed by ten small political parties, but not the main party FRETILIN, Xanana Gusmao states that he is performing his duty as a citizen but does not want to be the president. He declares that his battle has been won, for as a soldier he led his country to its independence from Jakarta’s oppressive and murderous regime and that he prefers anonymity.

Whether the people of Timor Loro Sae will grant him this wish by not voting for him is extremely dubious. He is adored as a national hero.

Xanana Gusmao presents himself as an independent candidate, thus distancing himself from the political in-fighting for the time being hidden in Timor Loro Sae. The bickering between the parties led to the civil war which sparked the invasion of Indonesia in 1975, after the colonial power, Portugal, left the colony of East Timor, as it used to be called, to its fate after the April 25th Revolution (1974).

What followed was 25 years of murderous oppression by the Indonesian armed forces, in which one third of East Timor’s population of 600,000 was exterminated. 60,000 people were killed in the first two months of the invasion, which was carried out with the blessing of US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. In this massacre of 10% of the population of the Maubere people of East Timor in the first two months of the occupation, the Indonesian army used napalm and agent orange, supplied by the United States of America.

With less than ten thousand guerrillas, Xanana Gusmao held out in the mountains until he was captured in 1992 and taken to prison in Jakarta. By then his cause had achieved international acclaim and he was released shortly before the plebiscite which gave Timor Loro Sae its independence, in 1999.

The soldier, also a poet, has enchanted his people for too long for them to allow him to slip back into his writing.


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