Timor-Leste (East Timor) is colonised by the Portuguese in the 16th Century. When the Portuguese leave in 1975 it appears the colony might finally gain independence. But Indonesia invades at the end of the same year. The East Timorese begin a 24-year struggle to liberate their homeland. More background.
Born on 20 June 1946 in Laleia, Manatuto, Timor-Leste (East Timor), he is the second son in a family of nine children. His parents are teachers. Gusmao is educated at the Jesuit mission of Nossa Senhora di Fatima at Dare in the hills overlooking Dili. After leaving school he works in various jobs in Dili - typist, draftsman, waterside worker, fisherman - before obtaining a permanent position in the public service. While working as a journalist he takes the nom de plume Xanana. The name sticks for the rest of his life.
1968 - Gusmao is drafted into the Portuguese Army to serve three years of national service.
1971 - Gusmao returns to the public service. He begins to become involved in the Timorese independence movement.
1974 - The announcement by a new government in Portugal that it intends to withdraw from its colonies divides the East Timorese population and results in the formation of new political groups.
The Marxist Revolutionary Front for East Timor's Independence (Fretilin), founded on 20 May, calls for full independence. Gusmao joins the group, becoming deputy head of its Department of Information. The Timorese Democratic Union (UDT) initially favours a continued association with Portugal. When the UDT shifts its position the two groups join in an independence campaign.
The Popular Democratic Association of Timor (Apodeti) favours integration with Indonesia and receives backing from the Indonesian Government, which also wants to see the province integrated.
Indonesia's policy on East Timor hardens following a meeting in September between Indonesian President Suharto and Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, who acknowledges that it may be best if the colony joins Indonesia, if the East Timorese so wish.
1975 - The rise in the influence of Fretilin causes concern in Indonesia, which fears that East Timor may turn communist. As the Portuguese administrators leave, Fretilin troops seize the bulk of the colonial armoury.
The UDT, also concerned by the rise of Fretilin, stages an abortive coup d'état on 10 August, leading to a civil war between Fretilin and an anticommunist coalition of UDT and Apodeti. Fretilin quickly gets the upper hand, occupying most of the province by September, despite the military support given to UDT and Apodeti by Indonesia.
On 28 November Fretilin proclaims the Democratic Republic of East Timor. Gusmao is elected to the Fretilin Central Committee. Fretilin organises its armed supporters into a unified force, the Revolutionary Armed Forces for the National Liberation of East Timor (Falintil). The UDT and Apodeti call on Jakarta to intervene.
Indonesia invades on 7 December, landing forces at Dili and at Baukau, 100 kilometres to the east, and installing a puppet government composed of members of UDT and Apodeti. Gusmao is the last member of Fretilin's Central Committee to leave the capital.
The invasion takes place with the blessing of United States President Gerald Ford and US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who meet with Suharto in Jakarta on 6 December, the day before the Indonesian troops are mobilised.
It is estimated that 60,000 East Timorese, or 10% of the population, are killed in the first two months of the invasion. All told, up to 250,000 of East Timor's 1975 population of about 650,000 die as a result of the occupation and the famine that follows.
Between 30,000 to 35,000 Indonesian troops remain permanently stationed on East Timor during what becomes a 24-year occupation.
1976 - On 31 May the East Timor puppet government votes for integration with Indonesia. East Timor becomes the Indonesian province of Timor Timur on 17 July.
Most of the world, including Portugal, never recognises the annexation and the move is condemned by the United Nations (UN), which continues to recognise Portuguese sovereignty over the territory.
In the aftermath of the invasion, the Indonesian Government introduces a double-edged policy to secure its position.
On the one hand, resistance from Fretilin units operating from the hinterland is brutally suppressed; on the other, the government invests heavily in East Timor's development, allocating more funds per capita than in any other province.
1978 - Following the deaths of almost all of the Fretilin leadership, including the group's president, Nicolau Lobato, Gusmao finds himself in charge of the resistance.
Talking of the experience later, he says, "In the first three years we were, all the population together, trying to resist. And in the end of 77 to 78 we were destroyed. From almost 50,000 guerrillas we were reduced to 700. And I said, 'How can we resist? How can we win?'"
1981 - In March Gusmao organises the first national conference of Fretilin. He is formally elected leader of the resistance movement and commander-in-chief of Falintil.
The resistance survives a major Indonesian offensive - the "fence of legs" - during which civilians are used as human shields against the resistance fighters.
In September 160 Fretilin fighters and their families are massacred on the slopes of Mount Aitana, southeast of Dili.
1983 - The Indonesian military indicates it is prepared to hold peace talks. Gusmao negotiates with Indonesian General William da Costa in the remote mountain camp of Lari Guto. A cease-fire agreement is signed between the Indonesian Government and Fretilin on 23 March. However, the Indonesian Army resumes its offensive on 31 August. The East Timorese resistance holds.
Gusmao leaves Fretilin to concentrate on rebuilding the opposition movement on cross-party lines. He introduces a Policy of National Unity, increases contacts with the Catholic Church and develops a clandestine network in urban areas and other occupied zones.
1986 - The success of the national unity program allows Gusmao to unit the East Timorese factions - including Fretilin, UDT and Renetil, the largest underground youth organisation - through the formation of the National Council of Maubere Resistance (CNRM ). Gusmao is made head of the council. Fretilin makes Falintil a non-partisan army, with Gusmao as commander.
1991 - On 12 November, at the Santa Cruz cemetery in Dili, Indonesian troops shoot and kill 271 unarmed Timorese attending the funeral of a young Timorese killed during an earlier demonstration. The so-called Dili Massacre receives worldwide coverage, focusing attention on human rights abuses in East Timor.
The international community responds to the incident by suspending or threatening to suspend aid to Indonesia, prompting Suharto to appoint a national investigation commission to look into the incident.
The commission finds the army guilty of "excessive force". The senior officer in East Timor and his superior in Bali are replaced, three officers are dismissed from the army, and at least eight officers and soldiers are court-martialled. Four junior officers are sentenced to jail terms of between eight and 14 months. However, the punishments are relatively light compared to the harsh sentences meted out to the Timorese accused of instigating the incident.
A worrying finding of the commission is that as well as the on-duty troops present at the cemetery there was "another group of unorganised security personnel, acting outside any control or command (that) also fired shots and committed beatings, causing more casualties".
1992 - Gusmao is captured in Dili by the Indonesian military on 20 November and charged with subversion. At his trial, which begins in February 1993, he is prevented from reading his 27-page defence statement. On May 21 he is sentenced to life imprisonment in Jakarta's Cipinang jail for having, according to the presiding judge, "disturbed the life of East Timorese". The sentence is later commuted to 20 years.
While in jail, Gusmao meets his second wife, the Australian foreign aid worker and teacher Kirsty Sword. Sword, who also works covertly for the East Timorese resistance, passes messages from Gusmao to his colleagues outside. The couple marry in 2000. They have three sons.
1993 - The international community begins to question Indonesia's rule in East Timor. The UN Human Rights Commission adopts a resolution expressing "deep concern" at human rights violations by Indonesia in East Timor. In May the administration of US President Bill Clinton places Indonesia on a human rights "watch" list. When Suharto meets Clinton in Tokyo in July concerns are raised about the East Timor human rights issue.
1996 - In October the East Timorese peace activists José Ramos-Horta and Bishop Carlos Belo are awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for their "sustained efforts to hinder the oppression of a small people". The Noble Committee hopes that "this will spur efforts to find a diplomatic solution to the conflict of East Timor based on the people's right to self-determination". The Indonesian Government is "astounded and surprised at the reason given for the award".
1997 - South African President Nelson Mandela visits Gusmao in prison. After the meeting President Mandela calls for Gusmao's release, saying it is essential to resolve the conflict in East Timor.
1998 - The East Timorese National Convention held in Portugal in April establishes the National Council of Timorese Resistance to replace CNRM. Gusmao is reaffirmed by acclamation as leader of the East Timorese resistance and president of the council.
Suharto is forced to step down as president of Indonesia in May. He is replaced by his deputy, Jusuf Habibie. In June Habibie proposes a fresh autonomy deal for East Timor and in August agrees to negotiate with Portugal and the UN on the future of the territory.
Independence for East Timor now seems near, although concern rapidly develops over the growth of antiseparatist Timorese militias. The militias, who are backed by elements from the Indonesian military, begin to warn of violent consequences if independence is granted to East Timor.
1999 - On 27 January Habibie announces that the East Timorese will be allowed to vote on self-determination. Shortly after two Indonesian special forces units, codenamed Tribuana and Venus, arrive in East Timor to provide undercover assistance to the militias.
The antiseparatist militias step up their campaign of violence and intimidation, killing at least 22 civilians during an attack on the house of a Catholic priest in Liquica on 6 April. At least 12 more are killed in Dili on 17 April when the Aitarak (thorn) militia gang attacks the home of independence figure Manuel Carrascalao.
On 5 May Portugal and Indonesia agree on a formula to determine the fate of East Timor. A UN-supervised referendum will be held to establish if the East Timorese want autonomy within the Indonesian Republic or full independence. The referendum is scheduled for 30 August.
The referendum takes place in a tense atmosphere but without a major violent incident. 98.6% of the 444,666 registered voters cast a ballot. However, when it is announced on 4 September that 78.5% of the voters have chosen in favour of independence, chaos breaks out as the antiseparatist militias go on a murderous rampage.
During the weeks of violence that follow more than 1,000 die, the territory's infrastructure is destroyed and 500,000 of the entire population of 800,000 are forced to flee their homes, either to the country's interior or to neighbouring West Timor.
Indonesian police and soldiers participate directly in some of the atrocities and the forced transport of 250,000 refugees to West Timor.
Meanwhile, Gusmao, who had been moved to house arrest on 10 February, is freed on 7 September. He is unable to travel to East Timor immediately as his life would be in jeopardy but finally returns in October.
On 12 September Habibie agrees to the deployment of international forces to restore order in East Timor. The situation is finally brought under control after 20 September, when the International Force in East Timor (INTERFET), an UN-backed, Australian-led peacekeeping force, lands in Dili. The militias retreat to West Timor, where they terrorise the East Timorese transported to the refugee camps there.
On 19 October the Indonesian Government ratifies the referendum result and revokes East Timor's incorporation into Indonesia. The UN officially assumes control of the territory on 25 October.
At the end of the year, Gusmao travels to Strasbourg in France to receive the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought. The prize seeks "in the spirit of Andrei Sakharov ... to honour individuals or organisations who have devoted themselves to the defence of human rights and fundamental freedoms and the struggle against oppression and injustice".
2000 - INTERFET is replaced by the UN Transitional Administration for East Timor (UNTAET) in February.
At the same time, a report by the UN International Commission of Inquiry for East Timor recommends the establishment of an international human rights tribunal to prosecute those responsible for serious human rights violations that took place in East Timor in 1999.
Meanwhile, Gusmao resigns as commander-in-chief of Falintil.
2001 - In April a secret Indonesian Government report on the violence surrounding the East Timor independence referendum is leaked to the media.
The report, prepared by the Commission of Inquiry into Human Rights Violations in East Timor, finds that officers in the Indonesian military directed the militia violence and that top generals, including the then armed forces commander and defence minister, General Wiranto, were aware of the situation but did little to prevent it.
Wiranto is subsequently forced to step down from his Cabinet post as coordinating political and security minister.
The National Council of Timorese Resistance is dissolved in May, with Gusmao's position as its president also coming to an end. Speaking at the dissolution ceremony, Gusmao says it is the first time a "victorious liberation movement had voluntarily sidelined itself from power".
East Timor's first general elections are held on 30 August, the second anniversary of the territory's vote for independence. Gusmao does not stand at the elections but uses his authority to ensure that the vote is conducted in a free and fair manner without violence or intimidation. "I will prevent there being bloodshed at all costs, by all available means," he says.
Fretilin wins the elections, but without the massive majority expected. The party takes 55 seats in the 88-seat Assembly, five seats short of the two-thirds majority it needs to form government in its own right. It becomes instead the dominant force in a coalition.
Gusmao is given a position on East Timor's Planning Commission following the election. He also heads the resistance veterans association. The association sets up business ventures like a petrol distribution chain and a cement works to provide its 11,000 members with employment.
2002 - Gusmao is elected president of East Timor at a general election held on 14 April. He wins in a landslide, receiving 83% of the vote and taking 12 of the country's 13 provinces. During his five-year term he also acts as commander-in-chief of East Timor's defence force.
As East Timor's independence day approaches, dignitaries from 92 countries, including former US President Bill Clinton, UN Secretary-general Kofi Annan, Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri, Australian Prime Minister John Howard and Portuguese President Jorge Sampaio gather in Dili to witness the birth of the world's 192nd nation.
At midnight on 19 May Annan hands government to Gusmao and declares East Timor independent. The UN flag is lowered and the East Timor flag raised. About 100,000 East Timorese watch the ceremony.
"We wanted to be ourselves," Gusmao says. "We wanted to take pride in being ourselves, a people and a nation. Today with your assistance we are effectively what we have always striven to be."
Hours later Gusmao swears in the new East Timor Government. UNTAET is dissolved, although the UN retains a presence through the UN Mission of Support in East Timor. The country joins the UN on 27 September.
However, the country faces serious challenges.
Unemployment in East Timor is estimated to be as high as 65%. More than 40% of the country's population of 800,000 live below the poverty line, earning less that $1 a day. The average life expectancy is only 56 years. Half the adult population is illiterate.
Meanwhile, in Jakarta, the trials of 18 military personnel, militia leaders, and officials accused of participating in the violence leading up to and following the 1999 independence referendum begin in a special human rights tribunal on 14 March.
On the same day, 'The Sydney Morning Herald' reveals that senior ministers within the Indonesian Government were directing the Indonesian involvement in the violence and deportations surrounding the independence referendum, including the then coordinating minister for politics and security, General Feisal Tanjung, and the former generals A.M. Hendropriyono and Mohammad Yunus Yosfiah.
Major-general Sjafrie Sjamsuddin is identified as the chief architect of the operation and Major-general Zacky Anwar Makarim as the on-ground coordinator.
Of the 18 defendants facing the special human rights tribunal only two are jailed, Abilio Soares, the former governor of East Timor, and Eurico Guterres, the leader of the Dili-based Aitarak (thorn) militia gang and the deputy leader of the East Timor militia network. Both convictions are later overturned, in 2004 and 2008 respectively.
None of the military officers brought before the tribunal serve any jail time. District commander Lieutenant-colonel Soejarwo is convicted, as are regional commander Major-general Adam Damiri and Brigadier-general Noer Moeis. However, all the convictions are overturned by an appellate tribunal.
Former police commissioner Hulman Gultom also has his conviction overturned.
In East Timor, a special team of UN prosecutors, operating as an arm of the East Timorese government, conducts its own investigations into the human rights abuses surrounding the 1999 election. By October 2003, 367 Indonesians and East Timorese have been indicted, including former Indonesian military chief, General Wiranto. However, only 36 have been convicted, all of them East Timorese, and the indictments are not recognised by Indonesia.
2004 - On 22 March the UN-funded Serious Crimes Unit in East Timor releases evidence which it claims proves that General Wiranto was in control of the militias that ran riot following the 1999 referendum.
"The evidence is overwhelming that the armed forces, headed by Wiranto, exercised de facto and effective control over the militias," the unit's 92-page evidence summary says.
"Wiranto's de facto or effective control over the militia is demonstrated by evidence that the militias were formed, funded, armed and controlled by the Indonesian army with the knowledge of the accused (Wiranto)."
More background to the violence surrounding the 1999 referendum emerges on 5 April when 'The Sydney Morning Herald' exposes a till then suppressed report prepared for the UN Human Rights Commission.
According to the author of the report, Geoffrey Robinson, a specialist on Indonesia and veteran of the UN mission in Dili, Australia and the US helped to set the conditions in which the violence could go unchecked by backing Indonesia's demand that UN troops be kept out of East Timor before the vote.
As a result, the treaty signed between Portugal and Indonesia in May 1999 "placed sole responsibility for maintaining law and order in the hands of Indonesian forces", Robinson says.
Robinson recommends that 75 senior Indonesian officers, including Wiranto, should stand trial for war crimes in a special international court.
On 14 December Gusmao meets with new Indonesian President Suslio Bambang Yudhoyono in Bali. The meeting results in the establishment of a joint Indonesian and East Timor Commission on Truth and Friendship to investigate the events surrounding the 1999 referendum. The commission holds its first meeting on 4 August 2005. The UN later boycotts the proceedings, saying that because the commission may recommend amnesties for serious crimes it should not be endorsed or condoned.
2005 - On 20 May the UN withdraws the last of its peacekeepers from East Timor. A small UN staff of about 70 political, military and police advisers stay on for another year.
On 28 November Gusmao presents the East Timor Parliament with a report by the Commission for Reception, Truth and Reconciliation in East Timor, an independent group set up in 2002 to investigate the killings committed during the Indonesian occupation.
According to reports in 'The Australian' newspaper and other media outlets, the 2,500-page report finds that 18,600 East Timorese civilians were murdered or disappeared during the Indonesian occupation and between 84,200 and 183,000 more died as a direct result of Indonesia's policies. Indonesian police or soldiers were to blame for 70% of the 18,600 murders and disappearances.
The report is based on interviews with almost 8,000 witnesses from East Timor, statements from refugees in West Timor, Indonesian military documents and intelligence from international sources.
"The crimes committed in 1999 were far outweighed by those committed during the previous 24 years of occupation," the report says.
The Indonesian security forces "consciously decided to use starvation of East Timorese civilians as a weapon of war".
"The intentional imposition of conditions of life which could not sustain tens of thousands of East Timorese civilians amounted to extermination as a crime against humanity committed against the East Timorese population. ...
"Rape, sexual slavery and sexual violence were tools used as part of the campaign designed to inflict a deep experience of terror, powerlessness and hopelessness upon pro-independence supporters. ...
"The violations were committed in execution of a systematic plan approved, conducted and controlled by Indonesian military commanders at the highest level. ...
"Members of the civil administration of Timor and national-level government officials, including (Indonesian) ministers, knew of the strategy being pursued on the ground, and rather than taking action to halt it, directly supported its implementation."
The report finds that the violence surrounding the 1999 independence vote was also part of a systematic plan approved, conducted and controlled by Indonesian military commanders to the highest level.
The report calls for reparations for victims of torture, rape and violence. It also recommends that this compensation be paid by Indonesia, Portugal and foreign nations that sold weapons to Indonesia and supported the annexation of East Timor.
"The Permanent Members of the Security Council, particularly the US but also Britain and France, who gave military backing to the Indonesian government between 1974 and 1999 and who are duty-bound to uphold the highest principles of world order and peace and to protect the weak and vulnerable, (should) assist the Government of Timor-Leste in the provision of reparations to victims of human rights violations suffered during the Indonesian occupation. Business corporations that profited from the sale of weapons to Indonesia during the occupation of Timor-Leste (should) contribute to the reparations program," the report says.
According to the report, the mandate of the UN special crimes unit should be renewed to allow it to investigate and try human rights violations. The UN Security Council should also set up an international tribunal "should other measures be deemed to have failed to deliver a sufficient measure of justice and Indonesian persists in the obstruction of justice".
Gusmao is critical of the report and recommends that it not be made public. "This recommendation does not take into account the situation of political anarchy and social chaos that could easily erupt if we decided to bring to court every crime committed since 1974 or 1975," he says.
"The grandiose idealism that (the commissioners) possess is well manifested to the point that it goes beyond conventional political boundaries. ...
"The report says the 'absence of justice ... is a fundamental obstacle in the process of building a democratic society.' My reply to that would be not necessarily. ...
"The best justice, the true justice, was the recognition by the international community of the right to ... independence."
2006 - Gusmao and Indonesian President Suslio Bambang Yudhoyono meet in Bali on 17 February. They agree to ignore the findings of the report and focus instead on the investigation by the joint Indonesian and East Timor Commission on Truth and Friendship.
Late in April a political crisis develops in East Timor that threatens to plunge the fledgling democracy into civil war.
The crisis springs from dissatisfaction with the government of Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, rivalries among the military and police, and tensions between ethnic groups from the east and west provinces.
Violent clashes among the police and military result in several deaths. Rioting in Dili between competing gangs results in more deaths, looting and the widespread destruction of property. Overall at least 37 people are killed.
More than 150,000 frightened civilians flee the city or seek shelter in refugee camps.
With the government unable or unwilling to control the situation, and with Gusmao's power to intervene limited by the constitution, Foreign Minister José Ramos-Horta takes responsibility for securing the intervention of a foreign peace-keeping force and extending Gusmao's executive authority, especially in matters of defence and national security.
Australian troops arrive in East Timor at the end of May. They are joined by security forces from New Zealand, Malaysia and Portugal.
On 30 May Gusmao declares a "state of grave crisis" and takes direct control of the armed forces, the police and the defence and interior ministries to "prevent the violence and avoid further fatalities".
After a month-long stand-off Alkatiri finally steps down on 26 June. Ramos-Horta is sworn in as caretaker prime minister on 10 July.
A new government is formed on 14 July. "Today we close a cycle of profound crisis that has subjected our people to unpredictable and unjust sufferings and distress," Gusmao says at the swearing in ceremony.
2007 - Gusmao does not stand for another term in presidential elections held on 9 April, stepping down instead to lead a new party, the National Congress for the Reconstruction of East Timor (CNRT), in parliamentary elections held on 30 June. He is replaced as president by José Ramos-Horta.
When no party wins an overall majority in the elections, the CNRT, with 24% of the vote and 18 of the 65 parliamentary seats, forms a coalition with the Association of Timorese Democrats-Social Democratic Party coalition (11 seats) and the Democratic Party (eight seats), putting Gusmao in a position to claim government.
José Ramos-Horta appoints Gusmao as prime minister of a coalition government on 6 August. The new government is sworn in on 8 August.
2008 - An aftershock of the 2006 political crisis hits Gusmao directly early on the morning of 11 February when his convoy is ambushed by a band of rebel soldiers as it travels from his house to his office. Gusmao escapes unharmed from what is thought to have been a botched assassination attempt.
José Ramos-Horta, however, is not so lucky. An earlier attack on his house by the rebels leaves him seriously injured with multiple bullet wounds. He is flown to Darwin in Australia for medical treatment the same day.
Gusmao declares a state of emergency and the situation is quickly brought under control by international peacekeepers stationed in East Timor.
Meanwhile, the report of the Commission on Truth and Friendship investigation into the violence surrounding the 1999 referendum is leaked to the media in July.
According to 'The Sydney Morning Herald', the report finds that "Indonesian soldiers, police and civilian officials were involved in an 'organised campaign of violence'" and the "Indonesian state bears 'institutional responsibility' for atrocities including murder, rape, torture, illegal detention, and forced mass deportations".
Quoting directly from the 321-page report, the Herald writes, "The provision of funding and material support by military and government officials was an integral part of a well-organised and continuous cooperative relationship, in the pursuit of common political goals aimed at promoting militia activities that would intimidate or prevent civilians from supporting the pro-independence movement.
"TNI (Indonesian military) and police personnel, as well as civilian officials, were at times involved in virtually every phase of these activities that resulted in gross human rights violations including murder, rape, torture, illegal detention, and forcible transfer and deportation.
"Viewed as a whole, the gross human rights violations committed against pro-independence supporters in East Timor in 1999 constitute an organised campaign of violence.
"The TNI , Polri (police) and civilian government all bear institutional responsibility for these crimes."
At the formal release of the report on 15 July, Gusmao, Ramos-Horta and Indonesia President Yudhoyono accept the commission's findings and recommendations.
"We convey our deep regret over what happened in the past that has caused the loss of lives and property," Yudhoyono says.
2012 - Gusmao's CNRT party consolidates its position at parliamentary elections held on 7 July, winning 30 of the 65 seats.
The CNRT forms a coalition government with the Democratic Party and Frenti-Mudanca (a breakaway from Fretilin). Gusmao remains prime minister.
The UN Mission of Support in East Timor winds up its operations on 31 December. Early in 2013 the Australian-led troops from the International Stabilisation Force established following the crisis of 2006 begin to withdraw. East Timor is left to stand on its own for the first time since Portuguese settlement over 450 years ago.
2015 - Gusmao resigns as prime minister on 6 February, two years before his term is due to expire. He is replaced by Rui Araujo, a member of Fretilin and former deputy prime minister. Araujo heads a new unity government composed of all political parties. Gusmao stays on as minister for planning and strategic investment.
In March Gusmao announces that he and his wife, Kirsty Sword Gusmao, have separated.
2016 - At the end of August Gusmao travels to the Netherlands to attend a hearing on maritime boundaries between East Timor and Australia at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague.
East Timor seeks to have a 2006 boundary agreement between the two countries overturned. The agreement did not place the boundary at equal distances between the two countries and ceded the majority of a large offshore oil and gas field to Australia. East Timor argues the agreement was not reached in good faith because the Australian Government bugged East Timor's cabinet rooms during the negotiations.
According to Gusmao, "The basic fairness and common sense, let alone international law, dictates that the maritime boundary between two opposite countries should stand half-way between them."
"We have not come to the Hague to ask for favours or special treatment - we have come to seek our rights under international law."
The court determines that it can hold a "conciliation" on the dispute. The process is expected to take at least a year. Its conclusions will not be binding.
Freedom fighter, poet, leader. Gusmao is a voice of reason and moderation in the debate over the future of Timor-Leste (East Timor). Like South Africa's Nelson Mandela he advocates reconciliation rather than retribution as the best method of healing the country's wounds.
In his acceptance speech at the presentation of the 1996 Nobel Peace Prize, José Ramos-Horta said, "This speech belongs to someone else who should be here today. He is an outstanding man of courage, tolerance and statesmanship. Yet, this man is in prison for no other crime than his ideas and vision of peace and freedom ... Through Xanana, I bow to my people in profound respect, loyalty and humility because they are the real heroes and peacemakers."
Speaking after East Timor was liberated, Ramos-Horta said of Gusmao, "I tell you this, and I tell you frankly, this is the most extraordinary human being I have met in my life and I have met many, many great people."