20 May 2012

East Timor celebrates independence anniversary

8:30 pm on 20 May 2012

Celebrations are taking place in East Timor to mark 10 years of independence, just hours after a new president was sworn into office.

Tens of thousands of people gathered in the capital Dili to welcome in Taur Matan Ruak, a former guerrilla leader and ex-army chief.

Mr Ruak took over from the Nobel laureate Jose Ramos-Horta.

Mr Ruak became president on the Dili beachfront where the country declared its freedom from Indonesia exactly 10 years ago.

The ABC reports the new president faces a tough task to develop the tiny nation.

"There was a time in the past when blood and fighting spirit was what was demanded from us," Mr Ruak said at his swearing-in, drawing applause from the thousands gathered at the open-air venue.

"Today, what is required from us is sweat and hard work. Our history is a narrative of struggles and of hard work.

"This tradition of hard work and dedication to our country... has to be transposed to the present, to lift our people from their current predicament where the majority are poor to a stage in the future where the majority will be well off."