Subject: Horta to Vote for Gusmao

Friday 12 April 2002 For Immediate Release

RAMOS-HORTA ON PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

The following statement was made by Dr Jose Ramos-Horta today:

On Sunday April 15 for the first time ever in our 500 year colonial history, our people will go back to the polls, this time to elect the first president of the newest nation of the 21st century.

Throughout the political campaigning for the president, our people once again showed their extraordinary maturity and civility, and the entire period has been completely free of violence.

There have been some reported complaints of both intimidation and of people urging boycott or abstention.

I have not been able to substantiate such allegations, even though I have been in touch with East Timorese officials around the country, who have reported to me on a regular basis. I do believe that there must have been instances of pressure and intimidation by some elements. However they have been very few and isolated, and in no way affect the credibility and integrity of the entire process.

Once again the Independent Electoral Commission have exercised their responsibilities with the utmost professionalism and integrity.

Last but not least a few words about the two candidates:

Mr Xavier do Amaral showed courage, statesmanship and humility when, on Tuesday 12 March, he volunteered to renounce the use of party symbols and logos as a way to diffuse the most serious crisis in this entire electoral process.

Although Mr Xanana Gusmao?s candidacy was tabled by nine political parties, he insisted he was an independent candidate. He threatened to abandon the race if the Independent Electoral Commission would not back down on its ruling that the party candidates must display clearly the symbols of the parties that nominated them. After this incident Mr Xanana Gusmao?s campaign has also been marked largely by civility and statesmanship.

The two candidates have earned my respect. I urge all our country men and women to vote and vote with no exception, and choose between one of the two.

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When on Sunday at 7am I exercise my vote, I will have no hesitation and will vote for the very best candidate, the very best son of this country, Mr Xanana Gusmao. He will be a great president and I am certain that - as in the past - once he is elected he will walk halfway and embrace the Fretilin leadership and the government led by Fretilin. He will form a unique team and partnership that will lead our people into the 21st century in peace and prosperity.

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For further information contact:

Ms Caroline O'Brien Media Liaison Officer Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Second Transitional Government East Timor Telephone: +61 (0) 417 879 953 Email: foreignaffairs@un.org Website: www.gov.easttimor.org


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