Vice-Counsellor of CNRT, Virgílio Smith. (Image/Egas Cristóvão)

DILI, 11 May 2020 (TATOLI) – Xanana Gusmão’s CNRT party has called for its members serving in the executive of Taur Matan Ruak’s government to resign their positions.

Secretary-General Jacinto Rigoberto de Deus said Mr Gusmão had written to the prime minister, informing him of the resolution.

“[The letter] publicly declares CNRT party will retire from the 8th Constitutional Government. And to also announce to all those who were nominated by the party and sworn in as part of the current government, to resign freely” he said.

The secretary-general said the decision was taken by the party’s National Political Commission (CPN) on April 30; the prime minister was then informed on May 8.

Mr Gusmão’s National Congress of Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT) formed government in 2018 in coalition with the prime minister’s PLP Party, and the youth-oriented KHUNTO. The alliance fell apart earlier this year, but a number of senior CNRT members remain in important positions within the executive.

The party’s Vice-President Virgilio Smith said the prime minister continues to govern from in minority.

“Only KHUNTO and PLP remain in this Government. The two parties have 12 members in parliament and they are not representing a majority,” he explained.

Related news: PM Taur Nominates Five FRETILIN Members to Fill Vacant Ministries 

He added that FRETILIN will support the government, having signed an agreement in principle with PLP. But he argued that article 85 of the constitution, the president must seleect a prime minsiter from the leader of a party of alliance commanding the majority of the parliament.

“It means FRETILIN should be part of new coalition with KHUNTO and PLP. Thus CNRT is retired from the 8th Constitutional Government, hence PLP and KHUNTO have only 13 seats, and not legally representing a majority,” Mr Smith said

CNRT members responding to the news gave few clues about whether they would follow the party position. CNRT member, and Secretary of State for Youth and Sport, Nélio Isaac Sarmento, said this morning he had yet to receive the letter from party leaders.

Nélio Isaac Sarmento. (Image/Egas Cristóvão)

“I have yet to receive any letter, so I will go on working. Recently, the Prime Minister said we can continue working [in our positions]. I respect the decision of the Prime Minister,” he said.

Mr Sarmento would not comment on whether he would leave his position in line with the party’s position, echoing the response from party colleague, and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dionísio Babo Soares.

Read the original Tetum report here: CNRT Deklara Retira Hosi VIII Governu; Retira Hosi Governu, Nélio Isaac: “Ha’u Respeita Desizaun TMR”

Journalist: Evaristo Soares Martins

Editors: Robert Baird, Cancio Ximenes

Translation: Nelia Borges

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