The Freeland File
Global Market Data
Tales from the Trail
Lucy P. Marcus
David Cay Johnston
The Great Debate
Jack & Suzy Welch
Macro & Markets
Lipper Awards 2012
Personal Finance Video
Our best photos from the last 24 hours. Full Article
Images of February
Apple touches record high as iPad 3 sales run hot
Santorum to Puerto Rico: Speak English if you want statehood
14 Mar 2012
Apple continues to defy gravity as stock hits $600
15 Mar 2012
Exclusive: U.S., Britain set to agree on emergency oil stocks release
15 Mar 2012
European client pans Goldman slowness to reassure clients
15 Mar 2012
U.S. serviceman detained in Afghanistan over civilian casualties
Sixteen Afghan civilians killed in rogue U.S. attack
UPDATE 4-Obama defends energy policies amid gas price pain
Reinventing the race car
Wed, Mar 14 2012
Game therapy a powerful tool for paralysis patients
Tue, Mar 13 2012
Robotic support brings freedom to paraplegics
Tue, Mar 13 2012
President Ramos-Horta faces re-election battle in East Timor
Analysis & Opinion
India’s democratic tempest
East Timor's President Jose Ramos-Horta, who bid for re-election, speaks to his supporters at a market in Ermera district March 12, 2012. East Timor's presidential election, scheduled for March 17, 2012, will be the country's third presidential election. The text in the banner, which is in Tetum, the national language for East Timor, reads, ''Come vote for Ramos Horta, president for peace, president for national unity''.
By Tito Belo
Fri Mar 16, 2012 4:01am EDT
DILI (Reuters) - Nobel Peace prize laureate Jose Ramos-Horta faces a battle on Saturday to win re-election as president of East Timor with 11 other candidates standing, several of whom also played major roles in the nation's struggle for independence from Indonesia.
The president of Asia's newest and poorest nation plays little role in policy but is vital in projecting stability in East Timor after its bloody struggle for independence in 2002 and scattered violence around parliamentary elections in 2007.
Ramos-Horta, who survived an assassination attempt in 2008, shared the Nobel prize in 1996 for working for a peaceful solution to the East Timor conflict and his key role in the independence movement appeals to voters.
More than 9,000 supporters signed a petition asking Ramos-Horta to stand in the March 17 presidential election.
"If I am elected for a second term I will continue my success that I have achieved now, which is peace," Ramos-Horta told a crowd in Maliana district, southwest of the capital Dili, on Wednesday.
During East Timor's long campaign for independence, Ramos-Horta lived in exile, acting as a defacto foreign minister and drumming up international support for independence.
One of his main rivals will be former army chief and guerrilla leader Jose Maria de Vasconcelos, also known as Taur Matan Ruak.
"I fought for 24 years with (former guerilla leader and now Prime Minister) Xanana Gusmao and the people for the independence of East Timor," Matan Ruak said in a speech.
"Ten years after independence people are still poor and this has become my responsibility to be the president and bring hope to all citizens," he said.
Analysts said other rivals with a good chance to progress to a second round of voting on May 9 are Francisco Guterres from the Fretilin party that won the most votes in the parliamentary poll in 2007 and Fernando de Araujo of the Democratic Party.
East Timor is Asia's poorest nation but it has vast offshore natural gas reserves and is struggling to unlock this wealth.
For many voters economic issues are key, as 41 percent of East Timor's 1.2 million people live below $0.88 a day, according to a World Bank report, and malnourishment is a significant public health issue.
One of the main problems for East Timor's leaders is a dispute with Australia's Woodside Petroleum over the development of a big offshore gas field.
Woodside, which heads a consortium of firms developing the Greater Sunrise project gas field, wants to use a floating LNG plant, while East Timor wants the plant to be built onshore in order to create jobs.
The value of a petroleum fund has jumped to $6.9 billion in 2010 from $370 million in 2004 but is yet to be fully used to build the economy, said Damien Kingsbury, a professor from Australia's Deakin University.
The presidential campaign, which formally ended on Wednesday, was conducted through a series of rallies at which candidates vied to project a message of peace and stability.
Supporters plastered the dusty capital Dili with posters and toured on motor-bikes or campaign carts blasting out slogans.
"There is progress this year. I can feel this celebration of democracy and a growing tolerance among people and I feel I have my freedom to vote for the person I like," student Laurinda Beti Pinto told Reuters by phone from Dili.
The peaceful campaign has been in itself an achievement, said Cillian Nolan, Southeast Asia expert with the International Crisis Group think tank.
"These elections for many Timorese are an exercise in trying to develop more confidence to where the country is going and to project that image to the outside world," Nolan told Reuters.
(Additional reporting and writing by Olivia Rondonuwu in JAKARTA; Editing by Matthew Bigg and Michael Perry)
Related Quotes and News
We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/
Be the first to comment on reuters.com.
Add yours using the box above.
Back to top
New York Legal
Support & Contact
Advertise With Us
Connect with Reuters
Our Flagship financial information platform incorporating Reuters Insider
An ultra-low latency infrastructure for electronic trading and data distribution
A connected approach to governance, risk and compliance
Our next generation legal research platform
Our global tax workstation
About Thomson Reuters
Thomson Reuters is the world's largest international multimedia news agency, providing investing news, world news, business news, technology news, headline news, small business news, news alerts, personal finance, stock market, and mutual funds information available on Reuters.com, video, mobile, and interactive television platforms. Thomson Reuters journalists are subject to an Editorial Handbook which requires fair presentation and disclosure of relevant interests.
NYSE and AMEX quotes delayed by at least 20 minutes. Nasdaq delayed by at least 15 minutes. For a complete list of exchanges and delays, please click here.