DILI, 10 March 2020 (TATOLI) – Xanana Gusmão’s majority coalition has formally nominated him to replace Taur Matan Ruak as Prime Minister, if President Francisco Guterres Lú-Olo approves the alternative government.
Coalition spokesman, António da Conceição, said Gusmão’s name was put forward in a new letter presented to the president this morning, outlining the mandate of the would-be government.
“The letter specifically mentions the new coalition chooses Kay Rala Xanan Gusmão as Prime Minister of the 9th Government, whenever the president accepts [it],” he said, ahead of the coalition leaders’ meeting with the president this morning.
Gusmão, a former PM and president, leads the coalition’s largest party CNRT. But the coalition had yet to confirm until this morning who would be in charge, if it formed government.
Prime Minister Taur submitted his resignation to President Lú-Olo last month, prompted by the collapse of the governing AMP coalition, which included Gusmão’s CNRT. Xanana Gusmão announced February 22 that he had gathered a coalition comprising of six parties and a total of 34 seats — the majority of the 65 seat legislature.
However, President Lú-Olo is yet to formally accept the resignation.
Gusmão, 73, a former resistance hero, was Timor-Leste’s inaugural president from 2002-2007, and Prime Minister from 2007 to 2015. His conflict with the FRETILIN-aligned President Francisco Guterres, who rejected nine of Mr Gusmão’s ministerial nominations in 2018, has been a defining feature of the current government.
During its initial meeting with the president last week, the coalition was told to go away and hold a joint congress with all six parties. Instead, the Democratic Party (PD) held its own national congress last week, and over the weekend the remaining coalition partners KHUNTO, UDT, CNRT, Frente Mudança (FM) and PUDD held theirs.
“It’s not necessary to hold a congress together, because it is not [needed] to fulfil the requirements for parliament members,” Mr Conceição argued.
Mr Conceição, also the government leader of PD, said the coalition considers it has “completed the requirements” laid out by President Lú-Olo last week.
“As of the 7th of this month, all [parties] have held their conference. And today we have come to submit another letter….confirming, one more time, the coalition’s willingness to form the 9th constitutional government,” he said.
Journalist: Cipriano Colo
Editors: Robert Baird; Cancio Ximenes
Translation: Nelia Borges