- Title: EAST TIMOR: Jose Ramos-Horta on election trail
- Date: 4th April 2007
- Summary: (BN14) DILI, EAST TIMOR (APRIL 3, 2007) (REUTERS) EAST TIMOR GOVERNMENT HEADQUARTERS SIGN FOR GOVERNMENT HEADQUARTERS
- Embargoed: 19th April 2007 13:00
- Topics: Domestic Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA9DDIFMSVJF3S5IJQXT2CJ0IT1
- Story Text: Jose Ramos-Horta was campaigning on Tuesday (April 3) for the East Timor presidential election.
Ramos-Horta, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for his campaign against Indonesian rule, became Prime Minister after his predecessor, Mari Alkatiri, quit following violence on the island in 2006.
Eight candidates are in the race for the April 9 election in the impoverished country of around one million which has been struggling to maintain stability since the chaos last May following the sacking of 600 mutinous soldiers.
The campaign that started in March has been largely peaceful apart from a few stone-throwing clashes between rival supporters.
Despite the relaxed mood, Ramos-Horta spoke to around 2,000 supporters under tight protection from the United Nations police.
"(If I win) I won If I lose, I win my freedom. So, whatever the case, I always be a winner," he told reporters after delivering a speech in Baucau, a small town with a green-painted church about 100 km (60 miles) east of the capital Dili.
Supporters crowding the road on their way to the rally in a schoolyard shouted: "Viva Ramos-Horta!". Banners reading: "Vote for the Nobel Peace Prize winner" and posters showing him receiving the award in 1996 could be seen across the town.
An east-west divide in East Timor, one of the world's youngest and most underdeveloped country, erupted in chaos and gang violence after the May sacking. Those problems coupled with high youth unemployment have haunted the country.
Ramos-Horta has said he will "lead the fight against poverty" in a nation that hopes to capitalise on its potentially lucrative oil and gas reserves to raise living standards. Many attending the rally were also supporters of the National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT), a new political party of current President Xanana Gusmao who has said he wants to take Ramos-Horta's current job.
The president's post in East Timor is largely ceremonial while the prime minister wields real power.
Adelino, a resident in Dili said "I hope we will have a new president soon, to improve the situation"
Other presidential candidates include parliamentary chief Francisco Gutteres of the ruling Fretilin party and veteran politician Francisco Vaxier do Amaral, who lost to Gusmao in the 2002 race
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