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Summary Article: Gusmão, Xanana Alexandre from The Hutchinson Unabridged Encyclopedia with Atlas and Weather Guide

East Timorese politician, president 2002–2007 and prime minister from 2007. Gusmão was head of the Frente Revoluciánaria do Timor Leste Independente (Fretilin; Revolutionary Front of an Independent East Timor) guerrilla movement from 1979 and president of the National Council of Timorese Resistance from 1998. After the overwhelming vote for East Timorese independence from Indonesia in 1999, he played a key role in constructing the new democracy and healing wounds caused by inter-ethnic fighting. He held a senior position in the United Nations administration that governed East Timor 1999–2002 and in late 2001 was elected to become the country's first president on independence in May 2002. He decided not to seek re-election as president in 2007 and was replaced by José Ramos-Horta in May 2007. Instead, he led the new National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction in the parliamentary elections and became prime minister in August 2007, leading a coalition government.

Born in Manatuto in Portuguese Timor, he was educated at a Jesuit school near Dili. After three years compulsory service in the colonial Portuguese forces, Gusmão worked briefly in local government and moved to Australia, before returning in 1975 to join the new Fretilin movement. After its guerrillas had been weakened during Indonesia's annexation of East Timor in 1975–76, he rebuilt their strength, using jungle bases, while also advocating peace negotiations and constructing political alliances. He was captured in 1992 and sentenced by the Indonesian authorities to 20 years' imprisonment for his armed attempts to establish a separate state. Under international pressure Gusmão was transferred to house arrest in Jakarta, Indonesia, in February 1999, and freed the following September. He stepped down as leader of Fretilin in August 2000.

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