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10 October 2008

Fretilin Statement to Opening Session of Second Legislative Sesssion of the National Parliament

FRETILIN Leader in Parliament: Statement on Opening of 2nd Legislative Session
Statement by Aniceto Guterres, Leader of FRETILIN in the Parliament on the Occasion of Solemn Ceremony for the Opening of the Second Legislative Session of the Timor-Leste National Parliament.

Dili, 9 October 2008

Your Excellency the President of the Republic,

Your Excellency the President of the National Parliament,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Excellencies.

This parliament has been and continues, as far our bench is concerned, the representative assembly for all Timorese citizens, the chamber where the People's voice should echo to guarantee the compliance with the Constitution and the laws against the abuse of power.

Without a Parliament, without respect for the rules of democracy, without the Rule of Law, we will only see dictatorship, autocracy and oppression, which have always been rejected by our people.

Without rules that secure the balance of power, without the adherence to the primacy of Law, we will easily fall into the temptation of totalitarianism trampling on and negating the inherent human rights and freedoms which give meaning to our independence for which so many gave their lives and underwent sacrifice.

Mr. President of the National Parliament,

When Your Excellency spoke upon being elected President of this Noble Chamber in August 2007, before this Assembly, transmitted live by Public Radio and Television to the whole of our country, Your Excellency declared that this National Parliament under your Presidency, "will not and will never be the mouthpiece of the government". A message that left amongst our people expectations of the growth of a Parliament full of vigor and strength, that would secure a balance between the constitutional powers and make democracy flourish in Timor-Leste.

After one year of parliamentary deliberations, and after making an assessment of the 1st Legislative Session, we lament that your statements proffered on that solemn moment, did not survive beyond that moment. The National Parliament became more debilitated, submissive and diminished in the shadow of the executive.

The Executive of the National Parliament in the 1st Legislative Session was unable to secure its independence and the separation between the legislature and the executive; it failed to demonstrate competence and seriousness to guarantee the due respect for the National Parliament to whom the Executive/Government accounts in accordance with the Constitution.

The Executive of the National Parliament allowed the National Parliament to be systematically bypassed and diminished by the Government.

The Executive of the Parliament allowed the Government to refuse to submit itself to an urgent debate regarding the execution of the budget when it failed to ensure the debate occurred as the law specified, it also allowed the Government the same way to fail to attend parliament every month to answer the questions of the members of this Parliament, allowed the government to this day to fail to present documents requested by members of this parliament such as copies of contracts relating to the national and international advisors, contract for the purchase of patrol boats, contracts for millions and millions of hectares of land conceded to foreign entities.

The Executive of the Parliament scandalously breached the Law during the debate in the generality for the Budget, restricting the democratic right of the opposition as guaranteed by the Constitution of the Republic.

The Executive of the Parliament impeded the opposition from using the weight of debate to scrutinize the Government, which permitted corruption to deteriorate significantly with a fall of 22 places in the Transparency International ranking now sharing place with the most corrupt nations on earth, and which brings shame to us all.

Before closing we remind us all that the Government's proposed Budget should be presented to this parliament in a timely fashion to allow the National Parliament to adequately scrutinize it. Under no circumstances should the time period of three months before the end of the financial year for presentation of the proposed budget to the National Parliament be abridged. As such we await that the proposed Budget very soon the Government will present the proposed State Budget for the 2009 Fiscal Year.

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