10 August 2008

FRETILIN requests President to initiate investigation into unintended promulgation of rectifying budget

Media release 10 August 2008

FRETILIN requests President Ramos-Horta to initiate investigation into unintended publication of rectifying budget

The President of Timor-Leste's largest and historic party FRETILIN, Francisco Guterres "Lu Olo" today called upon President Dr. José Ramos-Horta to order an investigation into why the Revised Budget Law (also known as the rectifying budget) was sent by his office to the parliament, and then subsequently published in the official gazette, thereby bringing it into law, against the President's declared intentions.

A Public Communique issued from the President's Office on the 6th ofAugust 2008, when the President was already overseas stated, that prior to his departure the President delivered a speech to the nation, in which he informed the nation that he would await the decision ofthe Court of Appeal regarding a request for a ruling as to the constitutionality of the rectifying budget, before making a decisionon whether or not to promulgate it.

The Communique added that: "The President of the Republic left very clear instructions to his office to send the rectifying budget for publication only if the decision of the Court of Appeal declared that the law was in conformity with all the requirements of the constitution."

Lu Olo said, "The President's own words, televised to the nation on the 5th of August 2008, and confirmed by the President's Office Communique on the 6th of August, the following day, were that he left clear instructions that the rectifying budget was not to be sent for publication with the official gazette.

"It was clear that this is what he had in mind when he spoke to the people. We do not believe for one moment the President would have spoken those words whilst intending to do the exact opposite. Despitethis manifest intent, others in his office took actions contrary to his clear instructions and sent it on for official publication.

According to Lu Olo this is a very serious situation for FRETILIN, forthe nation's democratic institutions and the Timorese people. He added that FRETILIN did not blame the President, because it believed he left clear and explicit instructions with his office before leaving on his overseas trip.

"However, we do not have confidence in others who work in the Office of the President of the Republic. We have grave reservations about their loyalty to the President and their political impartiality to be working in such a high office," Lu Olo said.

"We are very lucky that these suspect actions are such that may be fixed with the good will and cooperation of other institutions of our state. But we have to ask, what if it involved something more serious, something that could not be so easily reversed or rectified, such as a declaration of stage of siege or a declaration to dissolve parliament? Then what? The President had done all he could to ensure his intent was clear and that his actions would not impact negatively upon the nation, but even this could not safeguard a serious error from occurring."

"We cannot simply leave this matter as it is. It is important for us that state institutions know the truth of what actually happened. We have to know clearly whether this was the result of human error or whether there was some more deliberate act or omission to pervert the expressed will and intent of the President, to usurp his duties and powers. An in depth investigation must occur into this matter and FRETILIN give its full support to the President in initiating an appropriate legal investigation," Lu Olo added.

Lu Olo also emphasized that "this was not just a matter of an administrative issue in the President's Office, but a matter of grea timportance to the government, the parliament, political parties andthe people who need to have confidence that the highest office in the land is functioning legally and constitutionally, not to mention with administrative efficiency, whoever the President is or will be."

For more information, please contact Jose Teixeira: +61 438 114 960(Australia), +670 728 7080 (Dili, Timor-Leste)

Post sponsored by East Timor Law Journal - Towards the rule of law in Timor-Leste!

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