22 March 2012

Ramos-Horta seeks new alliance in bid for leadership role

Source: Brisbane Times Michael Bachelard March 22, 2012 - LESS than a week after Jose Ramos-Horta lost his bid for another term as president of East Timor he has decided to throw his weight behind the country's third party, the Democrats, for the June parliamentary election.

The 1996 Nobel laureate, who helped shepherd the tiny nation to independence in 1999, will shun the two major parties, Fretilin and CNRT, and push for the upstart Democratic Party to lead the country.

The party is headed by Fernando Lasama de Araujo, who came fourth in the race on Saturday for the presidency. Dr Ramos- Horta came second. Between them they won about 36 per cent of the vote - not enough for either candidate to proceed to the second round of voting on April 21, but a formidable bloc in the June parliamentary elections.
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The move pits Dr Ramos-Horta against his former ally and friend Xanana Gusmao, the Prime Minister. Mr Gusmao's CNRT party had refused to back Dr Ramos-Horta in the presidential race.

The move suggests the parliamentary race will become a tight battle between three parties: the Democrats in alliance with Dr Ramos-Horta, Fretilin, whose presidential candidate, Francisco ''Lu-Olo'' Guterres, won the first round of the presidential election, and Mr Gusmao's CNRT.

In East Timor the prime minister does not need to be a member of the parliament. Some observers speculated that Dr Ramos-Horta was hoping the Democratic Party would win and appoint him again to the post he held between 2006 and 2007.

As president, Dr Ramos-Horta was becoming increasingly frustrated and vocal about what he saw as corruption and inactivity from the Gusmao government.

Dr Ramos-Horta said yesterday that the election demonstrated that he had many supporters. He wanted to join the Democratic Party to help it win the parliamentary election and set up the new government.

"I must work together with them [Democratic Party],'' Dr Ramos-Horta said. He wanted ''a good political configuration [for] the future of the country".

He said the Democratic Party was a party of the future because its supporters were mostly young people.

Mr Lasama said a coalition between his party and Dr Ramos-Horta would be strong.

"Big brother Ramos-Horta will go with his younger brothers [in the Democratic Party] to prepare to meet the parliamentary election and the formation of a … constitutional Government of the Republic Democratic of Timor-Leste," he said.

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