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Thursday, 18 July, 2002, 22:50 GMT 23:50 UK
Landslide win in East Timor vote
Xanana Gusmao
Mr Gusmao will become East Timor's first president
East Timor's first President, Xanana Gusmao, has said his new role is "a great challenge".

"The expectations are high, the anxieties and necessities are enormous," Mr Gusmao told a news conference after the official announcement of his runaway victory in East Timor's presidential poll.

The fledging nation will be one of the poorest countries in Asia.

Australia, which led the UN peacekeeping force that dealt with the violence following East Timor's 1999 vote for independence warmly welcomed Mr Gusmao's election, but Indonesia, its former master, remained silent.

International support

"We warmly welcome Xanana Gusmao's election," Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said. "I think he'll make a truly fine president of East Timor."

Japan, which has also sent a big peacekeeping force to the half-island, said it would to extend "as much support as possible".

The official electoral commission announced Mr Gusmao won 83% of votes cast in Sunday's election, compared to just 17% for his only challenger, Francisco Xavier do Amaral.

East Timor's Chief Minister Mari Alkatiri, who took office following last year's legislative elections, welcomed the result.

He said his ruling Fretilin party would not be a source of conflict for Gusmao's new administration, as some analysts fear.


Key facts:
  • President to serve for five years
  • New parliament already elected
  • Independence on 20 May
    See also:

  • "I have come here to congratulate Xanana Gusmao. I do this from the bottom of my heart, believe it or not," he said.

    East Timor is currently under UN administration, and Mr Gusmao will take up his largely ceremonial post when East Timor gains full independence next month.

    Celebrations planned

    Mr Gusmao, 55, had been the overwhelming favourite to win. He is widely regarded as a symbol of East Timor's struggle for independence since it was invaded and annexed by Indonesia in 1975.

    His opponent claimed he had only taken part to allow people a choice.

    East Timor voted for independence from Indonesia two and a half years ago. The vote triggered serious violence. About 1,000 people were murdered by pro-Indonesian militias opposed to independence.

    Since then, the territory has been administered by the UN.

    Elaborate celebrations are planned when the running of the country is formally handed over to the East Timorese on 20 May.

     WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    The BBC's Richard Galpin
    "The final result was almost a formality"
    Foreign Minister of East Timor, Jose Ramos Horta
    "He is a naturally born leader and understands the nature of power"

    Key stories

    Independence day

    Background

    Key people

    TALKING POINT

    FORUM
    See also:

    14 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
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    26 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
    25 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
    21 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
    12 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
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