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East Timor president accepts independence leader Xanana Gusmao's resignation as prime minister

Former East Timorese guerrilla leader Xanana Gusmao salutes at the media as he leaves after a meeting with President Taur Matan Ruak in Dili, East Timor, Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. The president on Monday accepted the resignation of the country's independence hero as prime minister ahead of an expected restructuring of the government. (AP Photo/Kandhi Barnez)

Former East Timorese guerrilla leader Xanana Gusmao salutes at the media as he leaves after a meeting with President Taur Matan Ruak in Dili, East Timor, Monday, Feb. 9, 2015. The president on Monday accepted the resignation of the country's independence hero as prime minister ahead of an expected restructuring of the government. (AP Photo/Kandhi Barnez)  (The Associated Press)

East Timor's president has accepted the resignation of independence hero Xanana Gusmao as prime minister ahead of an expected restructuring of the government.

The former guerrilla leader spearheaded East Timor's drive for independence when Indonesian rule ended in 2002. He was the first president of the half-island nation until becoming prime minister in 2007. Gusmao's request for resignation was submitted Friday.

The presidential office said in a statement Monday said President Taur Matan Ruak had accepted the resignation and started preparations to set up a new government in accordance with the constitution. It said a new Cabinet was expected to be installed by the end of this week.

East Timor voted overwhelmingly in 1999 to end 24 years of brutal Indonesian occupation that had left more than 170,000 people dead.