Subject: AP/RT: Ramos-Horta to run for president in East Timor

Also RT: Ramos-Horta formally announces E.Timor president run; VOA: Jose Ramos-Horta to Run for East Timor Presidency

Ramos-Horta to run for president in East Timor

February 25, 2007

LAGA, East Timor (AP): Prime Minister Jose Ramos-Horta of East Timor told a cheering crowd in his hometown Sunday he will stand in April's presidential elections, vowing to help return peace and stability to the troubled nation.

Ramos-Horta, who shared a Nobel Peace Prize for nonviolent resistance to Indonesian rule, said in his candidacy speech he went through "weeks of reflection and hesitation" before deciding to run during the worst crisis since the tiny nation broke fromJakarta in 1999.

"We laid down the arms after the fight against the occupation, but now our fight is for our future," he said, speaking in the local Tetum language. "In this new fight, each Timorese citizen has the responsibility to serve their country.

"Therefore I am available to assume my responsibility to my country," he said. "I am ready to serve you all if you decide to vote for me on April 9."

More than 1,000 fans chanted "Viva Horta!, Viva Horta!" after the 57-year-old formally announced his candidacy. (***)


Ramos-Horta formally announces E.Timor president run

By Lirio da Fonseca

Reuters Sunday, February 25, 2007; 2:47 AM

LAGA, East Timor (Reuters) - Jose Ramos-Horta, the Nobel Peace Prize winner who took over as East Timor's prime minister last year, formally announced on Sunday he would run for the presidency in April's election.

The announcement in front of about 2,000 supporters came after he had told Al Jazeera English earlier this week he intended to be a candidate.

"Today in Laga subdistrict of Baucau district, I am telling all people of East Timor and the world that I am running for presidential candidate of East Timor," Horta said.

He called on the people of the tiny country of one million to use the chance to vote in the April 9 ballot and reminded them not to carry any weapons.

In April 2006 the former Portuguese colony descended into chaos and violence following the sacking of 600 mutinous soldiers.

Australia led a force of foreign peacekeepers into East Timor in late May which eventually brought a semblance of order, but sporadic clashes between youth gangs, acts of arson, and attacks on international peacekeeping military and police units have continued.

Horta said on Sunday his candidacy is for peace, reconciliation, understanding, the poor and justice.

He promised to state his programs in writing so the public could see how "a president cooperates with the government, parliament and NGOs to help the poor."

East Timor's current president, Xanana Gusmao, a hero of the fight against Indonesia in a near 25-year occupation that followed a Portuguese pull-out in 1975, has repeatedly said he would not run again.

The dominant political party in parliament, Fretilin, has already said it will put up a candidate.

Both Ramos-Horta and Gusmao have historical ties to Fretilin, which has left-wing roots and was the major pro-independence organization in the battle against Indonesian forces.

But in recent years the two took a more independent path and are regarded as friendlier to Western countries and liberal economic policies than the older Fretilin stalwarts.

In his earlier comments to Qatar-based broadcaster Al Jazeera, Ramos-Horta said: "I have consulted with my president, Xanana Gusmao, consulted with the (Catholic) bishops and I have decided to accept the burden."

East Timor is overwhelmingly Roman Catholic.

Then East Timor's foreign minister, Ramos-Horta took over as prime minister after Fretilin leader Mari Alkatiri, broadly blamed for the civil violence, stepped down on June 26, 2006.

The territory voted in a 1999 referendum for independence from Indonesia. It became fully independent in 2002 after a period of U.N. administration.

It is rich in offshore oil and natural gas resources, but is only beginning to develop them. In the meantime, most of its citizens rank among the world's poorest.


Jose Ramos-Horta to Run for East Timor Presidency

By Chad Bouchard


25 February 2007

Jose Ramos-Horta told a rally of cheering supporters in his hometown, Laga, on Sunday that he will seek the presidency.

He said he made his decision after weeks of refection and promised to unveil a clear and transparent campaign platform based on reconciliation and help for the poor.

Mr. Ramos-Horta is a popular figure - winning a Nobel Peace Prize in 1996 for his decades long struggle against Indonesian rule. The tiny country became independent in 2002 - but has struggled economically and with recent violence.

Mr. Ramos-Horta was called upon to serve as prime minister in July to stabilize the nation after a mishandled military mutiny sparked months of deadly gang warfare, and revealed long simmering divisions between those who supported and opposed independence.

An Australian-led peacekeeping force of more than 2,500 troops is maintaining relative calm, but sporadic clashes in the capital city, Dili, have claimed dozen of lives over the past few months.

Former prime minister, Mari Alkatiri - who was blamed but legally cleared of charges that he caused last year's unrest - will be a force in the April 9 presidential race. Mr. Alkatiri heads Fretilin - East Timor's dominant political party.

Political analyst Robert Lowry, a former Australian military attaché in Indonesia, says Mr. Ramos-Horta faces fierce opposition from Fretilin.

"Well, you know, Fretilin is very intolerant of opposition parties," Lowry says. "And so you can expect, no matter who is running it, you could expect at least a low level of violence to intimidate the other parties and ensure they don't win. "

Mr. Ramos-Horta - who has also served as defense and foreign minister - had longs ties to Fretilin, the main independence organization. But he and current President Xanana Gusmao - the former rebel leader - have followed more non-partisan policies since coming to office.

Mr. Ramos-Horta is expected to formally announce his candidacy on Monday and will campaign against eight other candidates.

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