East Timorese weigh unity
Michael Bachelard and Mouzinho Lopes
East Timor’s sometimes fractious politicians are discussing the extraordinary possibility of forming a government of national unity, in which all the parliamentary parties would govern together.
The two major parties, Fretilin and CNRT, are being urged to join together by the former president, Jose Ramos Horta, and the influential Catholic Bishop of Dili, Alberto Ricardo, who said yesterday: “(We) must receive and embrace each other”.
“With cooperation and in unity our nation can move forward and look for the progress that we want material and spiritual,” Bishop Ricardo said.
However, such an outcome would leave the country without an effective opposition during a time when a number of the government’s policies particularly the amount being spent from its $10.5 billion petroleum fund are contentious.
As discussions between the parties continue today, Fretilin’s president Francisco “ Lu Olo” Guterres and its secretary general Mari Alkatiri have both expressed a willingness to join the government.
“Fretilin will indeed (join) this government,” Mr Guterres said.
Mr Alkatiri, a former Prime Minister, said the result showed Timorese wanted to strengthen national unity.
“Fretilin will participate in the governance from 2012 to 2017 so no need to be upset and concerned at the election result,” Mr Alkatiri said.
Behind the scenes, the former president, Jose Ramos Horta, has been urging the parties to form a “big tent” coalition.
Mr Gusmao has made no public comment yet, except to tell supporters that CNRT has “at least three options”, which includes alliances with all three of the other elected parties.
Shortly after the preliminary results were announced on Sunday afternoon, Democratic Party secretary general Mariano Assanami Sabino and vice president Adriano do Nascimento went to a meeting at CNRT’s headquarters.
Frenti-Mudanca president Jose Luis Guterres also paid a visit to the CNRT headquarters.
Sources said the two party leaders had started negotiation to form the new government.
CNRT secretary general Deonisio Babo said his party had not yet made any decisions about forming government, but would put the interests of the nation above the interests of the party.The National Council for the Reconstruction of East Timor (CNRT), of Xanana Gusmao, won without the absolute majority of parliamentary elections, on Saturday, according to final provisional results of the Technical Secretariat for Electoral Administration (STAE).
According to the STAE, the CNRT received 172,831 votes (36.66 percent). Prime Minister, Xanana Gusmao, will have 30 members.
The Revolutionary Front for an Independent Timor-Leste (Fretilin) won 147,786 votes (28.87 percent) and ranked second of the former head of Government Mari Alkatiri, will be the second largest force in parliament with 25 deputies
Third, according to provisional results of STAE, was the Democratic Party (PD) with 48,581 votes (10.39 percent) and
the current president of the East Timorese Parliament Fernando La Sama de Araujo has eight deputies.
Fourth in Moving Forward with 14,648 votes (3.11 percent)
Moving Forward [Frente Mudança], the current deputy prime minister, Jose Luis Guterres, will have two deputies.
The new parliament of Timor-Leste should have only the presence of four party formations.
The electoral law for the national parliament requires a minimum of three percent of valid votes for a political party to enter parliament. The other 17 parties did not receive this.
Unless in negotiations there is a change with the PD switching to Fretilin, Xanana Gusmao is returned to PM.
The anticipated influence of former President Ramos Horta on the result appears not to have materialised.