Timor. In February, the UN Security Council unanimously
extended the mandate of the UN Mission in East Timor (UNMIT)
to the end of 2012. The future of UNMIT and the
Australia-led international peacekeeping force in the
country depended on how the upcoming presidential and
parliamentary elections were conducted later in the year. If
the elections were held under calm and correct conditions,
the foreign presence was likely to cease or decrease.
countryaah, there was a shift in the presidential post following the
March elections, when then-President Jos谷 Ramos-Horta came
in third with less than 18% of the vote. The two candidates
who went on to a second, decisive election round were the
opposition party Fretilins Francisco Guterres, also called
Lu Olo, and Taur Matan Ruak (really Jos谷 Maria Vasconcelos),
who was formerly commander of the guerrilla movement
Falintil and later army chief (2002-11). The latter won the
final round in April with just over 61% of the vote against
almost 39% for Guterres.
The election movement and election day were calm compared
to previous elections, but a handful of violent incidents
occurred, including Taur Matan Ruak's political headquarters
were attacked with stones.
Taur Matan Ruak stood as an independent candidate, but he
was supported by the CNRT (National Congress of Timor's
Reconstruction), which was the leading party in the
government coalition. The outgoing Ramos-Horta candidate as
an independent with no party grouping behind him, and he
immediately confessed defeat and said he was convinced that
both the other presidential candidates could secure
stability in the country.
55-year-old Taur Matan Ruak was installed as president on
May 20, 2012, the day ten years after East Timor gained
independence. In his installation speech, he urged everyone
to work hard to lift the country out of poverty. According
to the constitution, the president has primarily a symbolic
and unifying role, but in practice he has political
influence through his personal network among the country's
small power elite.
Taur Matan Ruak's election victory was thought to have
given the governing CNRT, led by Prime Minister Xanana
Gusmão, a push forward in the July parliamentary elections.
The CNRT took home 30 of the 65 seats in the single-chamber
parliament, thereby removing Fretilin from the seat as the
largest party. The old Independence Party Fretilin got 25
seats, while the Democratic Party (DP) got 8 and the small
party Frenti-Mudança won the remaining 2 seats. Although
CNRT was about Fretilin, it was primarily CNRT's smaller
coalition parties within the government that backed the
most. The turnout was relatively high, 75%. Nearly one-third
of new members were women.
CNRT formed government together with DP and
Frenti-Mudança, while Fretilin again came into opposition.
Fretilin had previously proposed a unifying government
between Fretilin and CNRT, but Gusmão had refused. After the
formation of the government, violent protest actions broke
out among Fretilin supporters. Cars and houses were set on
fire and a man was killed. However, the choice itself went
The biggest challenges for the new government were to
deal with the deep poverty, widespread corruption and agree
on how best to use the money from the oil recovery. In
mid-2012, the value of the oil fund was more than USD 10
The fact that both the presidential and parliamentary
elections had been calm and correct, led by UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon during a visit to East Timor
in August, said that the country was now ready to be
responsible for its own security and that the international
security force would leave the country.. Hundreds of
Australian and New Zealand soldiers left the country in
November, and the last soldiers would return home in early
2013. The force had been stationed in East Timor for six
When Hillary Clinton arrived in East Timor in September,
it was the first time the country had been visited by a US
Secretary of State since independence in 2002.
At the turn of the year, the UN mission completed UNMIT's
mission after six years of presence in the country.