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Ramos-Horta calls for dialogue after presidential victory in Timor Leste

Agence France-Presse - April 22, 2022

Dili, Timor Leste – Nobel laureate Jose Ramos-Horta called for dialogue on Thursday, one day after scoring a landslide victory in Timor Leste's presidential election.

The 72-year-old won 62 percent of the vote against incumbent Francisco "Lu-Olo" Guterres' 37 percent, according to preliminary results announced after all the votes were counted.

"I will do what I always have done throughout my life, as I did in 2007-2012 when I was president, I will always pursue dialogue patiently, relentlessly to find common ground, to find solutions to the challenges this country faces," he told a press conference.

Ramos-Horta, who was also the country's second prime minister after independence, said he would wait for the election's official validation before claiming victory.

His opponent has not yet spoken.

Ramos-Horta has pledged to use his five-year term to break a longstanding deadlock between the two main political parties: the National Congress of the Reconstruction of Timor-Leste (CNRT) and Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (Fretilin).

He has hinted he could dissolve parliament to end the impasse, which could trigger political instability.

On Thursday he pledged "to strengthen our democratic institutions and to strengthen good governance" in the country of 1.3 million people.

Timor Leste is a former Portuguese colony that became independent from Indonesia in 2002 after 24 years of occupation.

Ramos-Horta was awarded a Nobel prize for peace in 1996 for his efforts in facilitating conflict resolution in the country.

The new president will have to help develop Southeast Asia's youngest country, where the World Bank has said 42 percent of the population live below the poverty line, and the economy has been badly hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ramos-Horta also wants to push for East Timor to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

Christine Cabasset, an expert on the country and deputy director of the Research Institute for Contemporary Southeast Asia, said the election "shows that the East Timorese are clearly aware of the high stakes involved in this presidential election".

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/world/2022/04/22/ramos-horta-calls-for-dialogue-after-presidential-victory-in-timor-leste-.htm