13 November 2017

Portuguese Institute of International Relations and Security: Xanana should go plant pumpkins

!WARNING! MACHINE TRANSLATION ORIGINAL PORTUGUESE TEXT JOURNAL I  Noticias Notisias News Berita Timor-Leste East Timor -  "Xanana Gusmão said that he had always dreamed of "planting pumpkins and raising animals after independence" in East Timor. In the name of Timorese national interest, and regardless of circumstantial pressures, perhaps the time has come to fulfill his old and desired dream." PAULO GORJÃO, IPRIS 10/11/2017 12:04

It will be the second time that the CNRT, as the second most voted party, deprives FRETILIN, the party that won the legislative elections, of exercising executive power.

A political crisis unfolding in East Timor is unpredictable. The situation has dragged on since July's parliamentary elections, in which Mari Alkatiri's FRETILIN was the most voted party (23 members), but by the minimum margin, electing only one deputy more than the National Congress of East Timorese Reconstruction ( CNRT, 22 members) by José Alexandre "Xanana" Gusmão.



Alkatiri formed a minority coalition government in September (30 MPs out of a total of 65 seats in the Timorese parliament), along with the Democratic Party ( PD, 7 Members). However, contrary to what was initially envisaged, Alkatiri saw his government program be rejected en bloc by the opposition: CNRT, People's Liberation Party (PLP, 8 deputies) of former President Taur Matan Ruak and Kmanek Haburas National Unity Timor Oan KHUNTO, 5 Members).

With the political crisis in place and with the government reviewing its program at this time, the president called a meeting that will take place next week with FRETILIN, CNRT and PLP leaders. In practice, if there is a second rejection of his program, the Alkatiri government comes to an end without honor or glory, at a time when Xanana Gusmão promises to move forward with a majority alternative.

This will be the second time that the CNRT, as the second most voted party, deprives FRETILIN, the party that won the legislative elections, of exercising executive power. In a sense, we are witnessing a repetition of what happened after the June 2007 election.

Naturally, the Timorese Constitution allows this possibility, as well as the Portuguese, ignoring in part the popular will. Put another way, if you understand it, CNRT, PLP and KHUNTO have constitutional legitimacy to prevent FRETILIN (and the PD) from governing, but politically this can turn out to be a big trouble.

In 2007, the constitutional "coup" of the CNRT was very badly received by the sympathizers and militants of FRETILIN. In reaction, serious disturbances of the public order occurred, having been burned and looted hundreds of houses. Despite appeals for calm, it is not impossible, or even unlikely, that a replay of the serious events of 2007 may occur, perhaps even on a larger scale.

As a result of his ambition, his bad personal relationship and his apparent inability to accept a new political defeat at the feet of Alkatiri and FRETILIN, Xanana Gusmão seems to have a great desire to play with fire in a high risk scenario. However, it is ironic that one of the main factors responsible for Timor-Leste's independence and the affirmation of the democratic regime is now (and again) in the undesirable role of being part of the problem, not the solution.

Long gone in 2001, for example, when Xanana Gusmão, modest and humble, said that he was not "the best person to be president" and that he was "tired because of [his] 25 years of great responsibility" in the struggle for self-determination and independence of Timor-Leste.

Xanana Gusmão, omnipresent in the Timorese political landscape in the last 15 years (president between 2002 and 2007, - minister between 2007 and 2015), said that he had always dreamed of "planting pumpkins and raising animals after independence" in East Timor. In the name of Timorese national interest, and regardless of circumstantial pressures, perhaps the time has come to fulfill his old and desired dream.

Researcher, Portuguese Institute of International Relations and Security (IPRIS)
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