Friday, August 10, 2007

Timor under the Microscope

Comment - Get this Alkatiri: you didn't win
Damien Kingsbury from the Masters of International and Community Development School of International and Political Studies Deakin University, writes for

The troubles currently gripping East Timor following the appointment of Xanana Gusmao as prime minister reflect many of the reasons the country was plunged into political crisis early last year.
In short, former prime minister Mari Alkatiri does not accept the basic principles of parliamentary democracy. It was this authoritarian tendency that directly led to last year's troubles and him being forced to resign as prime minister.
In the period since East Timor's otherwise successful parliamentary elections, Alkatiri has continued to insist that his party, Fretilin, should lead the new government. This is despite Fretilin being overwhelmingly rejected by more than 70 per cent of the population, seeing its vote cut by around half.
Alkatiri has variously insisted that Fretilin be allowed to form a minority government, that it lead a unity government and that it accept a 'neutral' prime minister.
The basis of these assertions was that, as the 'most voted party', Fretilin had the right to determine the shape of the new government. This was in turn claimed to rest on section of section 106:1 of East Timor's constitution. Section 106:1 of the constitution says that the government will be formed either by what is being translated from Portuguese as the 'most voted party' OR 'an alliance of parties that form a majority in parliament'.
There is some dispute about the translation of the first part of this section from the Portuguese, which seems to allow a minority government. But in any case, Alkatiri has consistently neglected the second part of this section. Despite the clear constitutionality and workability - of a majority coalition government, Alkatiri has claimed it is 'illegal', that he will not recognise it and that Fretilin will withdraw from parliament.
Similarly, former Fretilin minister Arsenio Bano has said that Fretilin's supporters believe the party 'won' the elections. Even if explicit instructions were not given to Fretilin supporters to go on the rampage, Alkatiri's language alone would incite such rampage. Fretilin did not 'win' the elections and was unable to form a coalition.
The alternative CNRT-led coalition is, constitutionally and according to parliamentary precedent, a legitimate government reflecting overwhelming majority support. The international community has, conventionally, congratulated Xanana Gusmao on his appointment as prime minister.
It should now condemn Mari Alkatiri for refusing to play by the rules of the democratic game and, in the process, again pushing his country to the brink.

1 comment:

Kud0s said...

Well said! It's so obvious that Alkatiri was indirectly stirring the anger of his supporters in the way he described the election. A man who does not think twice to wreak havoc in his own country for his personal gain should never be allowed to run the country.