East Timor

Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor


Published 10th February, 2012

The Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor or Fretilin was founded in 1974 with its own armed wing and advocating a Marxist programme of social reform. It describes itself as left wing and believes in democratic socialism, social democracy and left wing nationalism.

Fretilin was successful in its civil war against the Portuguese which led to their withdrawal in 1974, only to find that the Indonesians then annexed East Timor. Fretilin then went on to lead the resistance to the Indonesians.

In 1998 Fretilin joined with other pro-independence groups to form the National Council for Timorese Resistance (CNRT). Their leader (at that time in prison), José Xanana Gusmão was named president and Ramos-Horta vice president.

In 1999 a referendum, led by Fretilin produced overwhelming support for independence. The Indonesians withdrew and a joint UN-Timorese administration was established.

In the August 2001 Constituent Assembly elections Fretilin came first, taking 55 of the 88 seats. The new Assembly had the role of forming a constiution, which was completed and passed in 2002.

In the first presidential elections, Xanana Gusmão won the election with 82.69% of the vote, although by that time he was no longer part of Fretilin.

In 2007 further elections were held and Fretilin were again the largest party, but this time with 21 of 65 seats in the National Parliament. In the presidential election José Manuel Ramos-Horta won, taking 69.18% of the vote in the second round. The Fretilin candidate, Francisco Guterres came second.


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