East Timor’s new government, led by Xanana Gusmao, was sworn in on Saturday. It marks the return to power of the hero of the struggle for independence, eight years after he left the head of government.
More than two decades after its independence from Indonesia, the young Southeast Asian country is still struggling to diversify and develop its economy, and more than 40% of its 1.3 million people live in poverty.
“My vision is for people to be more prosperous, educated, skilled and innovative, to create more jobs and to prioritize productive sectors that can build a better economy,” the leader said in his inaugural address.
Mr Gusmao’s party, the National Congress for the Reconstruction of East Timor (CNRT), won 41.6% of the vote in May’s legislative elections, against Fretilin, which led the outgoing coalition, which suffered a loss of 25.7% of the vote. sounds. With 31 out of 65 seats in parliament, the NCRI formed an alliance with the Democratic Party (PD) in order to be able to form a government.
Repairs and fuel
The 77-year-old veteran has pledged reforms in several sectors. “The government will prioritize reform of the judicial system as well as development, starting with the villages, but also bringing the Greater Sunrise gas pipeline to East Timor,” he said, referring to the ambitious offshore gas project.
The former Portuguese colony’s budget is heavily dependent on oil revenues, but the hydrocarbon projects currently in operation should drain in the short term.
The new government will have to decide in particular how it intends to develop the mega-project Great Sunrise, with Australia and China as potential partners.
Last year, Nobel laureate Jose Ramos-Horta, another figure in the country’s independence struggle, won the presidential election, becoming head of state for the second time.
During the struggle against the Indonesian occupiers, Xanana Gusmao commanded the military wing of the Revolutionary Front for the Independence of East Timor (FRETILIN). He was elected in 2002 as the first president of independent East Timor after 24 years of Indonesian occupation.
In 2007, he founded CNRT. He became prime minister in the same year, led the government until 2015, when he resigned, and then wanted to make way for a new generation.