José Manuel Ramos-Horta


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(b. Dili, East Timor, 26 Dec. 1949),

Timorese; Foreign Minister 1975, 2000–06, Prime Minister 2006–7, President 2007–  His mother was Timorese and his father Portuguese, having been exiled to Portuguese Timor for opposing President Salazar in Portugal. Educated at a Catholic mission school, he was exiled to Mozambique in 1970 for advocating independence. Returning in 1972, he became active in Fretilin (the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor). When Fretilin gained control in the violence that followed Portugal's departure in 1975, he became Foreign Minister. The government only lasted nine days before Indonesia invaded and occupied East Timor amid great violence. Ramos-Horta had left East Timor a few days before to address the United Nations and did not return. In his twenty-five years of exile, he campaigned for the independence of East Timor, a campaign recognized in 1996 when he and Bishop Ximenes Belo were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. He resigned from Fretilin in 1988 but continued to work with them. He returned to East Timor in 1999 after the UN had taken over control of the country from Indonesia and he served as Foreign Minister from 2000 to 2006. In 2006 violence erupted in Dili, led by disaffected former soldiers, and the Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, of Fretilin, resigned. The President, Xanana Gusmão, appointed Ramos-Horta as Prime Minister. In May 2007 Ramos-Horta was elected President after Gusmão had stood down after his term. In parliamentary elections Fretilin gained most seats but not a majority. In the stalemate that followed, Ramos-Horta asked Gusmão to be Prime Minister rather than Alkatiri. In 2008 he was seriously injured in a coordinated assassination attempt on both him and Gusmão by leaders of the 2006 violence. He was considered as a possible candidate for Secretary-General of the United Nations to replace Kofi Annan and his international status strengthens his role as president.

Subjects: Politics.

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