AILEU, East Timor (AP) -- On a soccer field in East Timor's central mountains, thousands came to hear Jose Alexandre "Xanana" Gusmao make his campaign pitch.
Soon to become the world's newest country, East Timor is holding its first presidential election Sunday, and the former guerrilla leader is the overwhelming favorite.
Gusmao joked with the crowd a bit, then he got down to the business of politics, putting himself up as their watchdog against governmental abuses.
"If you vote for me, I promise to carry whatever burden you put on my shoulder," he told the cheering crowd in Aileu, 30 miles south of the capital, Dili.
Now under U.N. administration, the half-island territory of East Timor will become formally independent May 20. The East Timorese voted overwhelmingly in a U.N.-organized referendum in August 1999 to end 24 years of Indonesian military occupation following 350 years of Portuguese colonial rule.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.