Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak has put forward five members of the opposition FRETILIN Party to fill vacant ministerial roles. (Image/Egas Cristovão)

DILI, 30 April 2020 (TATOLI)—Taur Matan Ruak has nominated five FRETILIN members and one from the Democratic Party (PD) to fill long-vacant positions in the government’s Council of Ministers.

“I have informed the president that the government wishes to fill the six new members of the current government. The measure aims to end the political deadlock that has lasted for two and a half years,” the prime minister said yesterday, after a meeting with President Lú-Olo in Dili.

Related news: KHUNTO Leaves Gusmão’s Majority “Alternative Government”

The nominations include:

  • Julio ‘Meta Malik’ (PD) for Minister for Former Combatants;
  • Odete María Freitas Belo for Minister of Health;
  • Manuel Von for Minister of Tourism, Commerce and Industry;
  • Inácia Teixeira for Mr Von’s Vice-Minister;
  • Faustino Cardoso for Minister of State Administration;
  • and Fernando Hanjam for Minister of Finance.

The Prime Minister explained that he was filling vacancies left over in 2018, at the beginning of his government’s term, when President Lú-Olo did not accept eight nominated ministers.

The president claimed at the time that the nominees, mostly from Xanana Gusmão’s CNRT Party, were of “poor moral standing” because they were under investigation for corruption, or had previous convictions.

In a press conference yesterday, following KHUNTO party’s decision to leave his coalition, Mr Gusmão said CNRT would have to decide whether its members currently serving with the government’s executive will continue in their positions.

“I’m not the one who decides… the decision is up to the party,” he said.

Related news: Gusmão: “We’re Not Mad” at KHUNTO; “That’s Democracy”

Prime Minister Matan Ruak said he was satisfied that the executive was “intended for inclusion”, even if the CNRT members decide to resign.

It’s not a reshuffle: Dionísio

One of the most senior CNRT members in the executive is Foreign Affairs Minister Dionísio da Costa Babo Soares, who serves as the President of the party’s National Council of Directors (CDN).

He said yesterday the government is not making wholesale changes to the Council of Ministers.

Foreign Affairs Minister, Dionísio da Costa Babo Soares (Image/António Gonçalves)

“This is not a reshuffle, but a filling of the vacant positions but to complete all the empty positions. Regarding the party members in the government from CNRT, that depends on our decision [to leave or not],” Minister Soares said.

He said the prime minister has made a political compromise adding more members of other parties into the cabinet to fill the vacancies.

“The prime minister is very open, and wishes to maintain the current structure of the government, because he is very satisfied with the work of the CNRT members in this period, and he has no plans to change it,” Mr Soares said.

President Francisco Guterres Lú-Olo will now consider the list of nominees, and if approved, organise their inauguration.

Read our original Tetum coverage here: PM Taur Sei La Remodela Governu

Journalists: Hortencio Sanchez, Evaristo Soares Martins

Editors: Robert Baird, Cancio Ximenes, Agapito dos Santos

Nelia Borges


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