Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, Prime-Minister of the Democratic Republic of East Timor (Timor-Leste) and its former President, was awarded an honorary Doutor Honoris Causa degree from the University of Coimbra on Wednesday.
Coimbra University Professor, José Augusto Cardoso Bernardes, highlighted the reasons for the honor, which include Gusmão’s role in ensuring that Portuguese became an official language of East Timor, his contribution towards the struggle for East Timor independence from Indonesia, his political role in rebuilding the country, as well as his affective bond with Portugal.
“Portuguese was not only the language of the former colonizer but also the language of East Timor’s best ally in its struggle for national liberation” Bernardes said.
Bernardes also recalled that throughout the long years of Timorese resistance to Indonesian invasion, the now Prime Minister wrote and published poetry in Portuguese.
Xanana Gusmão was in Portugal for an official visit which included meetings with the President of Portugal, Aníbal Cavaco Silva; Prime-Minister, Pedro Passos Coelho; President of the Republic Assembly, Assunção Esteves; Minister of National Defense, José Pedro Aguiar-Branco, among other high ranking Portuguese government officials.
Portugal would do well to invest in East Timor, particularly in the oil, tourism and business areas, the country’s Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão said Tuesday in Lisbon.
After a meeting with the Portuguese President Aníbal Cavaco Silva, Gusmão said international investment was one of the topics they had discussed.
“I would like to invite (Portuguese) businessmen to look at the opportunities we have to offer”, Gusmão told reporters.
The East Timorese prime minister said Cavaco Silva had offered “supportive words … on the changes in East Timor in terms of security and political stability.”
Asked to describe the meeting, Xanana said it was “a meeting between friends, as always.”
The East Timorese Minister of Foreign Affairs, the Minister of Finance, Minister of Infrastructure, the Minister of Education and the Ambassador of Timor-Leste in Portugal were part of the delegation accompanying the Prime Minister of East Timor.
Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão was born on June 20, 1946 in Manatuto, Timor-Leste (East Timor). After leading a 28 yearlong resistance movement against the Indonesia occupation, he won independence for East Timor in 1999.
On 14 April 2002, Xanana Gusmão was elected President of Timor-Leste and was sworn-in as the President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste on 20 May 2002. He served as President of the Republic until the end of his term of office in May 2007.
The University of Coimbra, founded in 1290, by Portuguese King D. Dinis (1261-1325), is the oldest university of Portugal and one of the oldest universities in Europe and the world. It is also one of largest higher education Portuguese research institutions.