Xanana Gusmao

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Xanana Gusmao

"Born in the town of Manatuto on 20 June 1946, Jose Alexandre Gusmao was the second son in a family of nine children.

"He spent four years at a Jesuit seminary in Dare, in the hills overlooking the capital Dili, and attended Dili High School.

"He did three years compulsory service in the colonial Portuguese forces and later worked in the local government department of the colonial administration.

"When Indonesia invaded after Portugal withdrew in 1975, Xanana Gusmao fought an armed rebellion that lasted for more than 20 years. He spent more than six years in an Indonesian prison and under house arrest.

"While in prison he wrote poetry and painted, earning the description "poet warrior". It added to the almost supernatural status he attained during his life in the jungle.

"One such myth was that he had powers to turn into a creature to evade capture.

"He was released on 7 September 1999, just days after East Timor's landmark referendum result was announced.

"The vote sparked a wave of bloodshed led by pro-Jakarta militias opposed to independence.

"While president, Mr Gusmao made it clear he favoured an amnesty for those accused of the violence - putting him at odds with Fretilin, which used to be his own political party.

"Mr Gusmao and his second wife, long-time Australian partner Kirsty Sword, have three children. He also has two children from a previous marriage." [1]

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  1. Profile: Xanana Gusmao, BBC, accessed August 24, 2007.