Xavier was the first.
In one of its last acts, the first Timorese parliament, dominated by some of his long-time foes, finally decided to face up to the facts: Xavier was the first President of Timor-Leste. He deserves to be officially recognized as such, with all of the symbolic and humble material privileges that may bring.
In speaking to Lusa, Xavier offered more of his typical wily humor, reporting that Xanana and Ramos Horta called him today. “They congratulated me, but it’s not even my birthday today. I guess they have something to offer me anyways.” Clearly, Xavier is aware of the power he will yield in an eventual unity or coalition government.
He went on to say, “It’s too bad this had to come so late, but thanks to everybody. I still have one or two months to go back home and enjoy what is to come. Even if it’s just eating potatoes.”
I have written about him in various different moments on this blog.
I think appreciating Xavier is key to understanding East Timor as a nation. The man is fascinating, is articulate in many languages, entirely approachable, and dare I say, a living national treasure. (And it’s rare I can say that about people who have endorsed marrying off teenage girls!)
If I had the time, I would be on his front porch tomorrow to ask about writing his biography.