Gusmão, Xanana

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Gusmão, Xanana

Xanana Gusmão), 1946–, East Timorese independence leader, b. Portuguese Timor as José Alexandre Gusmão, later known as Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão. He served in the Portuguese army (1968–71), then worked as a teacher, surveyor, and journalist. In 1974 he joined the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (FRETILIN), and after the Portuguese left Timor in 1975 he fought against the Indonesian occupation. In 1981 Gusmão became the leader of FRETILIN's military wing. Captured in 1992, he was given a life sentence, but was released to house arrest in 1999. Gusmão took up writing in prison and was given the nickname "Poet Warrior." After East Timor became independent, he became the nation's first president (2002–7). In 2007 he became prime minister when his Congress for the Reconstruction of East Timor formed a coalition government. He stepped down in 2015, but then served as planning and strategic investment minister and led the negotiations that established (2018) the ocean boundary with Australia.

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