Horta praises the leadership of TL’s historical leaders: Popular Consultation Day

Horta praises the leadership of TL’s historical leaders: Popular Consultation Day

Photo Tatoli/Francisco Sony

DILI, 30 august 2022 (TATOLI) – The President of the Republic, Jose Ramos Horta praised the leadership of Timor-Leste’s historical leaders who led the Timorese people during the 24-year resistance against Indonesian occupation.

President Horta said that after the creation of the Central Committee of the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (FRETILIN), the leadership of several historical leaders of East Timor played a crucial role in leading the country to the Day of Popular Consultation, August 30, 1999.

Hora said it was the leadership of Francisco Xavier do Amaral, the first President of East Timor in 1975 following the unilateral declaration of independence on 28 November 1975, the leadership of Nicolau dos Reis Lobato, the first Prime Minister in 1975, and the leadership of the Charismatic Leader Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão whom he organized the first National Conference of the FRETILIN, in march 1981, during which he was elected leader of the Resistance and Commander-in-Chief of the FALINTIL.

Previously, in his message on the celebration of Popular Consultation Day, Horta also praised the leadership of Timor-Leste’s Armed Front leaders, including Taur Matan Ruak, Lere Anan Timur, Falur Rate Laek, just to name a few.

He said the leadership of the Diplomatic and Clandestine Front, the catholic church, the religious leaders, and journalists also played a vital role in the 24-resistance which led to Popular Consultation Day: “We have religious leaders like Fr. Locatelli, Fr. João de Deus, Bishop Martinho da Costa Lopes and so on. In addition, we have a number of journalists who put their lives in danger to uncover our struggle. One of these journalists is Max Stahl.”

“So, with the commemoration of the 23rd anniversary of Popular Consultation Day, I pay my homage to our Great Heroes Nicolau Lobato, Francisco Xavier do Amaral, and many other heroes.”

Horta stressed that the massive contribution of the entire population on the day of Popular Consolation was undeniable, saying the whole process was due to the great leadership of the historical leaders: “Today, we celebrate the result of long resistance. It demonstrates the great leadership of our historical leaders.”

“Today, Timorese people live in a free and stable nation. I congratulate all Timorese people as we live in a very democratic and peaceful nation,” Horta concluded.

At the same place, as the Head of the Organizing Committee, the Minister of State Administration, Miguel Pereira de Carvalho said that Popular Consultation Day was the day when every Timorese headed to the polling station to cast their votes to decide the future of Timor-Leste as an independent nation.

Popular consultation – Yes to Independence

On august 30, 1999, with courage and determination, the Timorese people expressed their wish for the independence of their territory.

On september 4, 1999, UN officials announced in Dili that the people of East Timor voted by 78.5 percent for independence and rejected the proposed special autonomy within Indonesia.

Therefore, Popular Consultation Day is considered one of Timor-Leste’s historic days. This day commemorates every year to remember the referendum that took place on august 30, 1999, which paved the way for independence from Indonesia.

In 1996, José Ramos Horta and the bishop of Dili, D. Ximenes Belo, were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their dedication to the defense of human rights and independence of Timor-Leste.

In 1998, with Suharto’s resignation and the end of the “Indonesian economic miracle”, B.J.Habibie was immediately sworn in as President. He later announced that he was willing to hold a referendum on autonomy (with integration into Indonesia) or independence for East Timor. The referendum took place on August 30, 1999, with the participation of more than 90%. 78,5% of the East Timorese favored independence and rejected the autonomy suggested by Indonesia.

Nevertheless, pro-Indonesia militias went on a rampage, assaulting UNAMET headquarters (the observers of the United Nations) and forcing Bishop Ximenes Belo to flee to Australia, while Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão took refuge in the British embassy in Jakarta. The wave of murders continued, promoted by the anti-independence militias and supported by members of the Indonesian army dissatisfied with the referendum results.


Journalist: Filomeno Martins

Editor: Nelia Borges


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