Subject: AP: Australia, New Zealand Welcome Ramos Horta's Election

Australia, New Zealand Welcome Ramos Horta's Election

SYDNEY, Australia, May 11 (AP): Australia and New Zealand - whose troops dominate a peacekeeping force in East Timor - on Friday welcomed the election of Jose Ramos Horta as president, and said the largely peaceful vote offered optimism for the tiny nation's future.

"I think he was the hope of the side," Australian Prime Minister John Howard said of Ramos Horta, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who was headed for a landslide win, according to official results. "I think he will be good and he's a person of great dedication and he's a good friend of Australia's."

New Zealand Foreign Minister Winston Peters said his country had good relations with Ramos Horta in his previous roles as foreign minister and prime minister, and expected the same in the future.

"We look forward to working him in his new role, and supporting him in the difficult task of strengthening Timor-Leste's young and fragile democracy," Peters said in a statement, using East Timor's official name.

"We now hope that the peaceful and orderly atmosphere that prevailed during voting for the president will be maintained for the rest of the electoral process, particularly when the finalresult is announced and when parliamentary elections are held next month," Peters said.

Results Thursday showed Ramos Horta had won 73 percent of the vote in the run-off election with Francisco Guterres, with almost 90 percent of ballots counted.

Parliamentary elections are due next month to determine the country's third prime minister since it broke free from Indonesian rule in 1999, amid bloody chaos. Violence erupted again last year as army and police factions split and civil order collapsed into gang violence. International troops moved in to restore order.

--------------- Joyo Indonesia News Service

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