Members of CNRT party broke the speaker's table during the unrest in the National Parliament yesterday (Image/Antonio Gonçalves)

DILI, 19 May 2020 (TATOLI) – The parliamentary bench lay buckled on its side. Members armed themselves with chairs. Police officers fanned out across the gallery, some shaking their heads at the sight. The entire room rang with a chorus of drumming, as CNRT members tried to avert a vote to oust one of their own.

The National Parliament descended into chaos today as Vice-President Maria Angelina Sarmento once again brought on a vote to dismiss President – or Speaker – Arão Noé Amaral.

In a repeat of angry scenes at yesterday’s plenary, Vice-President Sarmento and her fellow deputy, Luís Roberto, attempted to take control of the chamber by seizing the president’s seat.

But CNRT members then converged on the speaker’s table, flipping it over, in an attempt to stop the un-scheduled vote from taking place.

Related news: Vice-President Forced out of Parliament as Bitter Dispute Turns Physical 

“It’s an assault on power and crime against the state,” Deputy CNRT chief, Patrocínio dos Reis Fernanes, told reporters afterwards.

Ms Sarmento, with microphone in hand, attempted to hold an impromptu debate on dismissal. But every time she spoke, CNRT members drummed loudly on the benches, shouting: “illegal” and “assault on power”.

President-elect of the National Parliament, Aniceto Guterres (Image/PR Media)

Sarmento, from the governing PLP party, eventually managed to hold a vote on replacing Amaral with Aniceto Guterres – a former speaker, and FRETILIN MP.

After a vote to remove Mr Amaral, a second vote was held to elect Mr Guterres. A majority of 40 of the 65 members agreed – FRETILIN 23, KHUNTO 5, PD 4 and PLP 8. There were no votes against, and no declared absences.

Members of the National Police helped secure the ballots on the floor of parliament. PLP Member Regina Freitas announced the results to jeers from the CNRT bench.

“Don’t be agitating, the vote must continue until it’s finished,” she said, while José Virgilio of CNRT was heard to shout “this vote is illegal”.

Police officers surround the parliament floor during angry scenes today (Image/Antonio Gonçalves)
Former President, Arão Noé Amaral (Image/António Gonçalves)

Arão Noé Amaral said, after his dismissal, that he considered the vote illegal, under the penal code, vowed to launch a court appeal to overturn the vote.

Vice-President, Maria Angelina Lopes Sarmento (Image/Egas Cristóvão)

But Maria Sarmento said the governing bloc of FRETILIN, KHUNTO and her own PLP party would take “serious action” against CNRT for the scenes in parliament.

Yesterday, in announcing her intention to again try to dismiss the parliament president, Ms Sarmento said the actions of CNRT clearly had “no strong arguments”.

“They can only use violence. With violence they can win some sympathy. If they have reason, then why don’t they come and debate it and win the argument?” Ms Sarmento said.

Journalists: Evaristo Soares Martins and Robert Baird

Editors: Robert Baird, Cancio Ximenes

Translation: Nelia Borges

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