17 October 2009

Bere case - PM's spokesperson caught out on spin



Dili, 15 October 2009

Bere case - PM's spokesperson caught out on spin

FRETILIN General Secretary and former Prime Minister, Dr Mari Alkatiri said today the official spokesperson for Timor-Leste's de facto Prime Minister mislead the public by trying to implicate Dr Alkatiri in the unlawful and unconstitutional release of the indicted militia leader Maternus Bere.

Bere is wanted for crimes against humanity committed at Suai in September 1999, but was released from prison on August 30 this year on the order of PM Gusmao.

The PM's spokesperson, Agio Pereira, in a media release on October 12 asserted that "the consultative process in the Bere case included all the major office holders of the State" including Dr Alkatiri as "the leader of the main opposition party."

Dr Alkatiri said: "This lie has also been touted by some of Mr Pereira's government colleagues, as well as allied MPs. Let me make it clear, I was never directly or indirectly consulted about the decision to release Bere, prior to or during his release."

"In fact, it was not until the 3rd of September 2009, that I was informed of the release of Bere. This was during a meeting with the President, also attended by the de facto PM and the President of the Parliament, Fernando Araujo Lasama. I was invited to that meeting on a totally different matter - their proposal for me to travel to Guinea-Bissau to attend the swearing in of their President-elect, which I declined. It is very dishonest for Mr Pereira to imply otherwise, as he did in his media release. Mr. Gusmao himself confirmed this chronology in parliament.

"Nor could I have expressed a view, even on the 3rd of September, or before, that could have been regarded as binding or authoritative in any sense, given that I am currently not even sitting in parliament, having been substituted for an indefinite period of time.

"It is remarkable that although Mr Pereira states that 'all the major office holders of the State' were allegedly 'consulted' on the Bere case, he does not mention the national parliament, the only constitutional body mandated as the representative of the people.

"FRETILIN as the largest party in parliament, has a leader, Mr Aniceto Guterres, but he was never consulted on this decision," said Dr Alkatiri. "If nothing else it shows the contempt with which the parliament was treated in this so-called 'consultative process'".

A motion by FRETILIN and KOTA to censure the government over the Bere case was defeated in parliament last Monday October 12. Spokesperson Pereira's media release that day also said that: "Gusmão described the public censure as 'political opportunism'."

Dr. Alkatiri said today that he did not once hear Mr. Gusmao describe this constitutional and legitimate censure motion as 'political opportunism' during the parliamentary debate. "Had he said that, it would have been vehemently denied and condemned, because the censure motion was motivated by a legitimate concern for re-establishing respect for the constitution, the rule of law and the role of the national parliament. It was in defence of the principle of the constitutional separation of powers and independence of the judiciary, and administration of justice. Many in our civil society encouraged us to bring this censure motion. It is demeaning to all who oppose the release of Bere for good reasons to refer to it as politically opportunism.

"Mr Pereira is the only person so far to have described it as such. Even his own political ally, the vice president of the national parliament, Mr Vicente Guterres, is on the record as agreeing that it was the constitutional right of the opposition to move to censure the government. The leader of the Democratic Party, another of Mr Pereira's allies in the parliament, MP Adriano Nascimento, stated during the debate that despite voting against the motion he respected FRETILIN and others' right to bring it, as did others.

"FRETILIN's censure motion, the first in our constitutional history, was a victory for peaceful democratic and constitutional processes to resolve our national differences. Had the forces allied to Mr Gusmao not used subversive and illegal methods to cause the 2006 crisis to resolve the alleged 'discrimination against army petitioners' and instead explored a censure motion, democracy would have been the winner.

"Had they not been intent on using violence to trigger a crisis and bring about a coup d'etat against our government, had they restricted themselves to using the law, the constitution and the parliament to censure the government, to try to win over public opinion, then we would have had the relative stability and peace we have now. Peace and stability exists in Timor-Leste because this opposition will not do to this de facto government what the then disparate opposition did in 2006 to force undemocratic and violent change," Dr Alkatiri said.

For further information, please contact Advisor to the Office former PM Alkatiri, FILOMENO ALEIXO ON: +670 734 0383

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