Subject: Ramos-Horta to exit politics to become journalist

The Australian 19dec99

Ramos-Horta to exit politics

From AP correspondent HEATHER PATERSON in Dili

EAST Timor Nobel laureate Jose Ramos-Horta has announced his intention to leave the political arena and become a journalist.

Ramos-Horta campaigned tirelessly for the rights of East Timorese people after Indonesia invaded the former Portuguese colony 24 years ago.

He said he held no ambition to take part in the East Timorese government, which is expected to be formed within three years, but wanted to become a journalist.

East Timor is currently administered by the United Nations Transitional Authority in East Timor. Indonesia relinquished control of the territory after a August 30 independence referendum.

"I told our president Xanana Gusmao my public political involvement will not extend beyond December 2000," Ramos-Horta told journalists at a media training seminar in Dili.

"By then I hope the journalists' association will allow me to join you, go back to what I always wanted, and that is to be a practicing journalist."

Ramos-Horta also told the seminar the development of a free and independent media was an integral part of building a free and independent East Timor.

"There would not be a free and democratic East Timor without freedom of the media. Freedom of media is not an abstract concept, it has also some very practical implications," he said.

Ramos-Horta is involved in setting up the East Timor News Agency, which will work under the auspices of the Portuguese wire serve, Lusa.

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