Dozens of people gathered Thursday at Dili airport to say goodbye to Jose Ramos-Horta, who, after a ceremonial blessing, traveled to Guinea-Bissau to assume duties as the country’s UN Special Representative.
Family, friends, students of the National University of Timor-Leste wanted to participate in the farewell to the Nobel Peace Prize winner and their former President. They were joined by current President of East Timor, Taur Matan Ruak.
The farewell ceremony included a traditional Timorese blessing, which blesses the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s “displacement” to Guinea-Bissau, and is meant to give him the strength and commitment needed for the African mission.
“It is a simple cultural ceremony, reflecting the spirit of the land and the people accompanying His Excellency the Special Representative of the United Nations to Guinea Bissau,” explained José Turquel, one of the organizers of the ceremony.
“Timor-Leste has a spirit of land, people and culture that will accompany this illustrious son of Timor to Guinea-Bissau,” he added.
Before his departure Ramos-Horta left a message of confidence to his fellow Timorese citizens.
“The country is in good hands,” he said, “in the hands of the President of the Republic (Taur Matan Ruak), a resistance hero, and Mr. Prime Minister (Xanana Gusmao), also a hero of the resistance.”
Ramos-Horta stated that the situation in East Timor is one of peace and stability and the country will continue to experience strong economic growth.
“So I leave calmly, knowing that I leave behind a different country than it was in 2006 and 2007,” he said, adding that his mission is temporary and he will soon return to East Timor.