The Jaco Class Patrol Vessels are missing out of maintenance because of a lack of funds, the defence chief claims (Image/RDTL)

DILI, May 6, 2020 (TATOLI) – The head of Timor-Leste’s Defence forces (F-FDTL) said the Navy’s patrol vessels are missing out on maintenance because of the ongoing political impasse.

Speaking after his weekly meeting with President Francisco Guterres ‘Lú Olo’ in Dili on Wednesday, the defence chief said the standoff over the 2020 General State Budget, and the future leadership of the country has caused “many constraints” for the F-FDTL.

“For example, the Naval Component patrol vessels need maintenance… but the funds aren’t there. [Our] operational cars also have problems. Even so, we must not limit ourselves by waiting. We have to do what we can,” Maj.-Gen. Timur said.

Chief of FALINTIL-Defense Forces of Timor-Leste (F-FDTL), Major-General Lere Anan Timur (Image/Antonio Goncalves)

Maj-Gen. Lere said her recognised that the current political situation is not new, saying the problems started in 2017.

“As a leader and veteran, I ask everyone – especially political parties, politicians and national leaders – to ask themselves what they have been doing since our independence and what measures they intend to take in order to end this situation,” he said.

The Major-General added that “even if the country faces a difficult situation, the F-FDTL will not be influenced by anyone”.

However Mr. Lere called for unity between national and political leaders in the search for a solution to end the current situation of political deadlock that the country is going through.

“I appeal to the conscience and responsibility of all leaders, who must seek to respond to the current political crisis that has lasted for more than two years,” he said.

A FRETILIN-led government was elected in 2017, but collapsed within months. The subsequent 2018 election saw Taur Matan Ruak’s PLP Party lead a coalition government; but that alliance also collapsed early this year.

Xanana Gusmão has since formed a coalition of minor parties, presenting as the “alternative government”. However it too has begun to erode, taking its parliamentary majority with it, and also failing to win the crucial support of the president.

As a consequence, parliament has failed to pass the 2020 budget, subsisting on month-by-month duodesimal payments, which a number of ministries have complained limits their long-term spending.

Related news: Budget Roadblock is Reducing Supplies of Basic Medications

What is needed to break the impasse, the Major-General said, is dialogue between the leaders.

“The political deadlock must be overcome as soon as possible,” he said.

During their meeting, Major-General Timur told President Lú-Olo he considers the country’s security situation is stable. He also spoke about “progress” being made by the armed forces.

Read the Tetum coverage here: Situasaun Polítika Lori Konsekuénsia Maka’as ba Dezenvolvimentu F-FDTL

Journalist: Cipriano Colo, Domingos Piedade Freitas

Editors: Robert Baird, Câncio Ximenes, Zezito Silva

Translation: Nelia Borges

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