Ryan Dagur – Timor-Leste's new president Jose Ramos-Horta has pledged to maintain democracy and peace in the Catholic-majority country stressing his commitment to defend all sections of society, including sexual minorities, regardless of ideology and religion.
Ramos Horta, who took office on May 19, as the fifth president, immediately presided over a function marking the 20th anniversary of the country's independence on May 20.
"I don't just represent those who voted for me, I do represent all Timorese people who share my love for our land, for our culture, for our history," he said during the function.
He also said he was committed to enforcing the country's constitution "as a permanent and attentive guardian of the fundamental law and its values, values that reflect the nation we have chosen to be."
"No group in our society should be excluded, in particular, newborns, children, mothers, young people, and the elderly," he said.
"We must look at our children and siblings with disabilities not as a burden to society and the state, but as a force that we must embrace and provide them with the material means they need so that they can contribute even more actively to the life of the country."
"Likewise, there will be no room in our society for discrimination and exclusion of the sons and daughters of the LGBT community. All are children of God and children of the nation who contribute with intelligence and total devotion to peace, security and community well-being," he said.
The president also expressed special gratitude for the sacrifices of the country's freedom fighters, including Church people, such as bishops, priests, and nuns "who left us after a lifetime at the service of God and His people," he said.
He specifically acknowledged the role of religion which he called "inspires and encourages us to contribute more and more to human peace and brotherhood, an unavoidable condition for common development and prosperity."
Timor-Leste is an oasis of peace and solidarity, the Nobel Peace Prize laureate said, expressing hope that its citizens would still "live together in a spirit of full fraternity."
Ramos Horta replaced Francisco 'Lu Olo' Guterres, whom he defeated in the April 20 election. This is the second term for Ramos-Horta, who was president from 2007 to 2012.
Ramos-Horta also pledged "to fight for peace and human fraternity at the national, regional and international level, regardless of ideologies, religion or social organization."
"It is within the framework of multilateralism and the promotion of respect and friendship between sovereign countries that I propose the development of Timor-Leste's foreign policy," he said.
The new president also promised to make efforts to eliminate malnutrition and reduce extreme poverty which affects some 40 percent of the country's 1.3 million people.
He also reemphasized that he would continue to dialogue with all political parties, intellectuals, academicians, and religious leaders in carrying out his programs.