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01 March 2024

Timor president regains consciousness: spokesman

By Agencies


President Jose Ramos-Horta of East Timor has regained consciousness and spoken to family members after being in an induced coma since he was shot 10 days ago, his spokesman said Thursday.

"Doctors at Royal Darwin Hospital have reported that President Jose Ramos Horta continued his steady recovery today and is slowly waking up," spokesman Luke Gosling said in a statement.

"The President has said a few words to family and is resting."

The Nobel peace laureate was airlifted to the hospital in northern Australia after being shot by rebel soldiers outside his home in Dili on November 11.

The president was "aware" of the circumstances which led to his hospitalisation, Gosling told AFP, without elaborating on what Ramos-Horta said when he regained consciousness.

The president was briefly conscious last week after doctors lightened the level of his medication, but the medics decided to sedate him again ahead of another operation Tuesday.

Gosling said Ramos-Horta's doctors were pleased with reconstructive surgery performed to repair the damage caused by at least two bullet wounds to the back and chest.

A spokeswoman for the hospital said she had no details on when the president might be discharged from hospital or be ready to resume his duties.

Doctors said last week that he could be home within three weeks but it could be six months before he was entirely over the injury.

East Timor has been under a state of emergency, with an evening-to-dawn curfew in place and gatherings banned, since the attacks blamed on rebels led by Alfredo Reinado who was killed in the gunfire.

Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao was ambushed on the same day but survived uninjured.

Australian-led international peacekeepers along with UN and national police have been searching for at least 17 renegade soldiers accused of trying to kill the president and prime minister. (AFP)