Dionísio Babo Soares has resigned as foreign minister, following a decision by CNRT (Image/Egas Cristovão)

DILI, 25 May 2020 (TATOLI) – The Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dionísio Babo Soares, has resigned from Timor-Leste cabinet, following a decision by leaders from his party, CNRT.

Mr Soares said he submitted his letter of resignation to prime minister Taur Matan Ruak this morning.

“With full respect, this morning we came to meet with the prime minister to announce the decision of the party, especially… that I will give my resignation,” he said.

“We know that the political dynamics in the country are part of a democratic process. The CNRT decided to withdraw from the Government,” Mr Soares told reporters Monday at the Government Palace.

Related news: CNRT Members Told to Resign from Council of Ministers 

He said the prime minister offered his “regrets” at his decision. His replacement is yet to be announced.

“We told the Prime Minister that this is the [party] policy. We respect the party’s decision. The Prime Minister is going to make an order so that we can have a formal dismissal based on the Constitution,” he said.

CNRT entered government in coalition with PLP and KHUNTO in 2018, and were appointed several key ministries.

However a schism over the rejected 2020 General State Budget led to CNRT leaving the party, and forming its own alliance of opposition parties.

Related news: Third Time’s the Charm? Government Sets Timetable for Another 2020 Budget Debate

Mr Soares becomes the most senior member of Xanana Gusmão’s party to resign, and joins four other colleagues:
– Minister of Education, Dulce Maria Soares;
– Deputy Minister of State Administration, Abílio Caetano;
– Secretary of State for Youth and Sports, Nélio Isaac Sarmento;
– and State Secretary for Cooperation, Arsénio da Silva Pereira.

Veteran member Hermenegildo Augusto “Ágio” Pereira, had already been sidelined from his position as President of the Council of Ministers during a reshuffle announced on May 12.

Acting Finance Minister, Sara Lobo Brites (Image/Egas Cristovão)

However, one of his colleagues – Acting Finance Minister Sara Lobo Brites – said she intends to carry on in a “technical” capacity.

“I will keep the job, because my job at the Ministry of Finance is technical and operational. So, I decided to continue,” she said.

Editor’s note: This story has been updated to reflect the full list of resignations

First published in Tetum on May 25: Dionísio Babo Rezigna An, Sara Lobo Mantein Servisu ho Governu Daualuk

Journalist: Hortencio Sanchez

Editors: Robert Baird, Agapito dos Santos

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