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Wednesday, 17 April, 2002, 11:51 GMT 12:51 UK
E Timor warned of challenge ahead
Xanana Gusmao
Mr Gusmao called on Timorese to work together
East Timor's newly elected president, Xanana Gusmao, has spoken of the "great challenge" facing the fledgling nation in the next five years.

"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 first presidential poll.

East Timor will be one of the poorest countries in Asia once it assumes full independence next month. Correspondents say it also faces big problems in areas like health and local government.

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

  • Mr Gusmao's victory has been applauded inside and outside East Timor.

    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.

    Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said: "I think he'll make a truly fine president of East Timor".

    In Indonesia, where East Timor's independence was strongly opposed by the military and conservative politicians, Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda congratulated Mr Gusmao during a phone conversation.

    In a sign of Mr Gusmao's determination for reconciliation, he spoke of his desire to "enhance close relations with Indonesia" during the call, according to an Indonesian spokesman.

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

    Landslide win

    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.

    "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 on 20 May.

    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.

    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"
    See also:

    14 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
    Gusmao set to win Timor vote
    04 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
    Gusmao calls East Timor refugees home
    09 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
    Wiranto attacks Timor trials as 'unfair'
    26 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
    Australia pledges $3m to East Timor
    25 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
    E Timor, Indonesia sign accords
    21 Jan 02 | Asia-Pacific
    East Timor launches truth commission
    12 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
    Eyewitness: East Timor's road to recovery
    18 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
    Indonesian papers welcome Gusmao's win
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