Accessibility links

East Timor's Wounded President Returns to Hero's Welcome


East Timor's president, Jose Ramos-Horta, has arrived home after more than two months of treatment in Australia for injuries he sustained in an assassination attempt. Doctors say his recovery has been exceptional. From Sydney, Phil Mercer reports.

Thousands of people greeted President Ramos-Horta as he arrived in the East Timorese capital, Dili, Thursday.

As the crowd shouted "Viva President Ramos-Horta", the 58-year-old leader thanked the people of his troubled country for their support. He also thanked the national parliament, government officials and the international community.

Mr. Ramos-Horta was shot in a rebel attack at his home in Dili in February.

He was flown for emergency treatment in the northern Australian city of Darwin. After several operations and more than two months of recuperation, surgeons say he has made a remarkable recovery.

The president's private doctor, Rui de Araujo, says his health will be monitored closely.

"The wounds are completely closed, he still complains about some neuropathic pain but that is normal for that kind of damage that he had in his nerves and so on. So medically speaking he's up to 90 percent healed," he said. "We would only need to do some follow ups on physiotherapy, on scar management, and maybe some continuous pain management for some weeks."

President Ramos-Horta almost died when he was shot by gunmen loyal to rebel leader Alfredo Reinado, who died in the ambush.

Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao was also targeted by renegades on the same, but escaped unharmed.

Nine suspected rebels have been arrested, and up to 16 others are still on the run.

After his return, Mr. Ramos-Horta urged the remaining rebels to turn themselves in to face trial. He said he did not want to see any of them die. He also called on the government to do more to ease chronic poverty, using revenue from the country's oil and gas sales.

Tiny East Timor gained independence from Indonesia in 2002 but has been beset instability ever since.

Rebel soldiers clashed with units loyal to the East Timor government in 2006. The violence drove 150 thousand people from their homes and prompted an emergency military intervention by Australia, New Zealand, Portugal and Malaysia.

More than 2,500 foreign troops and police remain in the country to help local security forces maintain control.

XS
SM
MD
LG