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

DILI, 20 May 2020 (TATOLI) – Former political figures and religious leaders have expressed their embarrassment at the scenes at the National Parliament this week, after police had to step in to separate MPs during a heated debate yesterday.

Arão Noé Amaral was removed as president of the parliament and replaced with FRETILIN’s Aniceto Guterres, in a vote loudly opposed by Arão’s CNRT party colleagues.

Watching the chaos – in which chairs were thrown and a table broken by CNRT members – was the senior Catholic minister, Father Domingos “Maubere” Soares.

Father Domingos “Maubere” Soares (Image/Egas Cristovão)

“I came into Parliament to show my deepest sadness and ask the members to find the right way to settle the problem, not to scream at each other like it’s a cockfight,” he told reporters outside the parliament.

“Everyone should bow to justice.”

Father Maubere’s sentiment was echoed across social media, as Timorese shared their frustration at the political infighting during a time of a health, economic and political crisis.

“We have had a political deadlock for three years, and currently we have a global pandemic [COVID-19] making people suffer more; [yet] we don’t come and resolve their suffering. Instead we come and show this behaviour to add their suffering,” Fr Maubere said.

“The citizens and the people demand the leaders settle their problems with cool heads,” he said.

Fighting could scare off investors: Lugu

José Luis Guterres “Lugu”, the president of Timor’s special economic zone (ZEESM-TL), and the Special Administrative Region in Óe-cusse (RAEOA), said the scenes in parliament this week portray a poor image of Timor-Leste.

President of the RAEOA-ZEESM Authority, José Luís Guterres, known as ‘Lugu’ (Image/Egas Cristovão)

“I’m pleased [with the election of Aniceto Guterres] but I am also very saddened, because… although [the MPs] didn’t punch each other, they give a bad image to the the international community,” he told reporters at the National Parliament yesterday.

Guterres, a former FRETILIN minister and Deputy Prime Minister, said he was concerned about economic consequences from the fracas.

I hope that we don’t see violence in this country, because when it goes onto social media, it’s a poor image, and it is difficult to attract investors to make investments in Timor,” the RAEOA/ZEESM President said.

Meanwhile, former Timor-Leste president José Ramos-Horta told Portuguese news agency Lusa yesterday there was “nothing dignifying” in the behaviour of the members.

“Nothing dignifying for the parties involved. Nothing dignifying for the deputies and for the parliament,” he said. “I feel very sad to observe what is happening in our country, what happened yesterday [Monday] and today in parliament.”

Mr Ramos-Horta did not comment on the actions of the majority of members who voted out the president of parliament, but he cautioned against “creating a precedent” to remove or elect a sovereign leader.

Parliament is in recess today, for the Restoration of Independence national holiday.

Read the original Tetum here: Padre Maubere Triste Haree Aktu Deputadu Sira iha Parlamentu

Journalist: Florencio Miranda Ximenes

Editors: Robert Baird, Julia Chatarina

Translation: Nelia Borges

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