Xanana Gusmão, meeting President Lú-Olo this morning, is all but set to lead the next Timor-Leste government. (Image/Media PR)

DILI, 6 March 2020 (TATOLI)- The leader of Timor-Leste’s coalition government-in-waiting, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, has presented his leadership team to President Francisco Guterres Lú-Olo for the first time, at a meeting in Dili.

Gusmão, himself a former president, and head of the National Congress of Timor-Leste Reconstruction (CNRT) party, presented his new team at the Presidential Palace this morning.

Coalition secretary António da Conceição said the meeting went very well. However he added that the president, who is yet to approve or reject Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak’s resignation, asked for further “requirements” to be met.

“The president welcomed the coalition’s provisions laid out in our letter… [in order to] form a new government, but there are some requirements the president would like [us] to meet first,” Mr Conceição said.

At issue, he said, was a requirement by the president for the coalition to make decisions through a joint congress, which is yet to take place.

Mr Conceição, who is also the secretary of the minor Democratic Party (PD), said that on the coalition’s letter to the president, said the coalition needed time to answer the questions.

“We are not in a position to answer the president, so the coalition will conduct a meeting to [sort] out the procedures that are required by the president,” he said.

Leader of the Opposition FRETILIN Party, Mari Alkatiri, said the presidents concerns were reasonable.

FRETILIN General-Secretary, Marí Alkatiri (Image/Egas Cristovao)

“It is settled. The new coalition does not follow the rules for  political parties,” he said.

Mr Alkatiri made the comments after the congress of of the former AMP Alliance partner, KHUNTO. He said any coalition forming government must fill all of the requirements first.

No timeframe, but OJE essential

Mr Conceição said the president gave no indication of how much time the coalition had to resolve his requirements. But the president stressed the need to pass the stalled General State Budget (OJE) for 2020, for the sake of the whole country.

He added this the principal requirement for forming government is to guarantee the sustainability of the coalition through to the end of its term.

“It means the conditions that talk about judicial, legal requirements must be followed,” he said.

Xanana Gusmão’s new coalition — which is yet to be given a name — includes: PD President, Mariano Assanami Sabino; KHUNTO president, Armanda Berta dos Santos; UDT president, Rudolfo Apparicio Guterres; Interim President of FM, Egídio de Jesus; and president of PUDD, António de Sá Benevides.

The six parties together hold 34 seats — a majority in the 65-seat parliament.

Former President José Ramos-Horta wrote on social media: “We pray for our leader, the president, and the new coalition, that they can find a way to resolve the political crisis.”

It’s Mr Gusmão’s first formal meeting with the president since October 2018. Earlier that year, President Lú-Olo refused to swear in nine CNRT MPs as ministers, deeming them of “poor moral standing”.

Mr Gusmão boycotted the swearing-in ceremony in protest, and the issue caused tensions within the ruling AMP Alliance from the beginning of its term in power.

UPDATE 5:05pm

Secretary António da Conceição said the decision on who would lead the coalition as Prime Minister, if it forms government, is yet to be decided.

“This morning, the coalition did not represent a proposal for a new Prime Minister to the president, because article nine of the political party rules has not yet been fulfilled,” he said.

Before the meeting, CNRT Party’s parliamentary leader, Duarte Nenes, announced that the new coalition intended to present a new leader during the meeting.

He argued that that it was not necessary to hold a joint coalition congress, because his own party, PD, already had held its own, and CNRT “would have not difficulty” in meeting the requirement.

However, Sec. Conceiçao said the machinations were a distraction from the real challenge facing Timor-Leste.

“PD’s objective is to achieve a viable governance plan to implement the General State Budget. To us, the person is not important,” he said, referring to the position of Prime Minister.

Journalist: Cipriano Colo; additional reporting by Robert Baird

Editors: Robert Baird; Cancio Ximenes

Translation:
Nelia Borges

Read the original Tetum here: Koligasaun Foun Presiza Prenxe Rekezitu Balun; Xanana To’o iha Palásiu Prezidente-Repúblika iha Tuku 9:00; Alkatiri Konsidera Preokupasaun PR Lú Olo ba Koligasaun Foun Razoável; Koligasaun Foun La Konsege Aprezenta PM Foun Ba PR

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