16 October 2009

FRETILIN ready for government - Gusmao’s spokesperson get’s it wrong again

FRENTE REVOLUCIONARIA DO TIMOR-LESTE INDEPENDENTE FRETILIN MEDIA RELEASE Dili, 16 October 2009 FRETILIN ready for government - Gusmao’s spokesperson get’s it wrong again

De facto Prime Minister Gusmao may have won the battle in parliament over his notorious release of militia leader Maternus Bere, but he lost the war with the public who followed the spectacle on TV and radio. The government coalition AMP also lost heavily in local elections on October 9. “That’s the best explanation for the new lows in the PM’s media attacks on FRETILIN this week,” said FRETILIN Vice President and MP Arsenio Bano.

A new media release by the PM’s spokesperson shamelessly misquoted and misrepresented statements by Dr Alkatiri, reported in the Dili daily Suara Timor Lorosae on 13 October 2009.

“Where the story reported FRETILIN General Secretary Dr Alkatiri calling for early national elections, the PM’s media release claimed that he said FRETILIN was not ready to govern,” said Mr Bano.

“Dr Alkatiri is arguing that there should be a new five year term for a new government, and not a change of coalitions in the existing parliament which would allow a new administration just over two years to fix up the enormous mess created by the Gusmao government. That is the FRETILIN position,” said Mr Bano.

“The suco elections, our community leaders elections, held across the country last Friday show that the AMP parties’ votes have crashed. FRETILIN’s votes have soared back to the electoral support the party held before Mr Gusmao and his allies fomented splits in the army and the police, and organized gang violence around Dili. Mr. Gusmao split the country between east and west in a speech intended to incite violence, and which succeeded in doing so,” Bano said.

The provisional results announced by the National Elections Commissions of elected lists of candidates for suco and village heads, as well as community councils, confirms that lists made up of candidates where FRETILIN party local leaders, and who are well known to the community as being FRETILIN’s candidates amongst these communities, won over 56% of the positions nationwide and in Dili over 64%.

“However, in places like Fatobessi in the district of Ermera in the country’s east, formerly a stronghold of the Gusmao allied Democratic Party, they only managed to get 50 votes out of thousands.

“In fact in Ermera district as a whole, FRETILIN ticket cleaned up all positions winning 32 out of 52 sucos, whereas in 2007 we only got 10% of the votes. The dismay and despair amongst Mr Gusmao’s AMP MPs is palpable. They are very expressive of their discouragement with the results.

“Voters are tired of increasing official corruption, Ombudsman’s reports of Minister’s abuse of power and corruption, collusion and cronyism, including serious allegations against the Prime Minister and his deputy PM Guterres. Basic services are deteriorating all over the country. State schools have been closed since July and will remain closed until next year. Rural roads are worse than ever,” Bano said.

“Mr Gusmao’s already falling credibility as a leader plummeted further with his dubious performance during the censure motion debate this Monday. He was evasive and unconvincing when he tried to argue that Bere had not been released, but merely ‘transferred’ from one prison establishment to another, that is from Becora jail to the new prison establishment – the Indonesian Embassy!”

Belying Mr Pereira’s assertions that ‘all’s well’, Bano referred to the report by the UN Secretary General to the Security Council in which he said: “More time is required to ensure that the various efforts aimed at tackling the many political, institutional and socio-economic challenges facing the young nation of Timor-Leste are allowed to take root in democratic institutions and processes.” The report added “that the causes underlying the 2006 crisis, including the rising level of poverty, persistent unemployment, the lack of an effective land and property regime, and under-strength justice and security sectors, could still destabilize the country ... tensions in some communities remain and could lead to future local-level conflicts.”

Mr Bano was scathing of the PM’s claims about pensions it pays. “Firstly, this is FRETILIN policy enshrined in the Constitution by FRETILIN, whilst Mr. Gusmao's current Deputy Prime, Mario Carrascalao, Justice Minister Lucia Lobato, Agriculture Minister Mariano Sabino Lopes, Education Vice Minister Paulo Assis Belo all voted against it, as they all voted against the current Constitution in the Constituent Assembly. What they give in terms of these pensions to the elderly, US$240 per year, is a quarter of the housing and facilities allowance Ministers and other members of government get, over and above their salary of over US$900 per month. Then there is the 400% or more rise they just gave MPs this month,” Mr Bano said.

“When FRETILIN accepted government in 2002, the national budget was just US$83 million and relied mainly on donors. Today there are more and more voices saying that with only 20% of the annual budget which Mr Gusmao enjoys, FRETILIN was able to secure more in terms of basic goods and services, such as water and sanitation, electricity, health services, and education, which have all fallen off since August 2007,” Bano concluded.

For further information contact Arsenio Bano MP on +670 741 9505

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