Govt Welcomes Peaceful E. Timor Vote

JAKARTA ~ The government has welcomed the peaceful presidential election in East Timor and repeated its vow to work with the tiny country it occupied for more than two decades.

“As a neighbor, we welcome that the first round of the presidential election process went well,” Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda said after Monday’s vote.

“We are waiting for the results, but we will welcome whomever is elected democratically,” Wirayuda said, adding that Indonesia would seek neighborly cooperation with East Timor.

Indonesia occupied the former Portuguese colony for 24 years until 1999, when East Timor opted for self-determination in a UN-administered referendum.

The period around the referendum was marred by an orgy of violence and destruction that killed 1,400 people and was blamed on the Indonesian military and linked militia gangs.

Monday’s election was the first since East Timor, formally known as Timor-Leste, declared independence in 2002.

Voters are seeking to replace President Xanana Gusmao, who won a pre-independence poll but is not seeking reelection. The charismatic former guerrilla leader spent time in an Indonesian prison for resisting occupation.

Indonesia’s invasion of East Timor led directly to the deaths of more than 100,000 East Timorese, or 10 percent of the population, an official investigation found.

Gusmao and Indonesia’s leadership say they have moved on from their painful past.

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