Deputy Prime Minister, Armanda Berta dos Santos, is sworn in on Friday. (Image/Julião Fernandes -PR Media)

DILI, 1 June 2020 (TATOLI) – Timor-Leste Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak said he is optimistic the eight new members sworn into cabinet last week will “strengthen” the government, as it meets various pressing challenges.

President Francisco Guterres Lú-Olo last week swore in six new members as ministers, and two ministers into new positions.

The restructure was sparked by a new partnership between FRETILIN, KHUNTO and the governing PLP party.

“Today (Friday) the 8th Constitutional Government has gained eight more members… I believe with the presence of these members will work to answer the difficulties that are encountered by all of us,” the prime minister said in a speech on Friday.

Taur Matan Ruak said the government is “always open” to dialogue relating to plans to the develop the country, and improve people’s lives.

Six members – mostly from FRETILIN – joined cabinet:
– Minister of Parliamentary Affairs and Social Communication, Francisco Martins da Costa Perreira Jerónimo
–  Minister of Finance, Fernando Hanjam
– Minister of Government Administration, Miguel Perreira de Carvalho
–  Minister of Health, Dr Odete Maria Freitas Belo
– Minister for Combatants and National Liberation (Veterans’ Affairs), Júlio Sarmento da Costa ‘Meta Mali’
–  Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, Pedro dos Reis.

While two existing ministers moved to different roles:
– Armanda Berta dos Santos (Deputy Prime Minister)
– Fidelis Magalhães (President of the Council of Ministers)

However, the make-up of ministry is yet to be completed; a second deputy Prime Minister is expected to be appointed from FRETILIN, while other key ministries such as Foreign Affairs remain unfilled.

The new members were sworn in at the Presidential Palace, in a ceremony attended by guests such as: the new President of the National Parliament, Aniceto Guterres; the President of the Court of Appeal, Judge Deolindo dos Santos; former Prime Minister and FRETILIN president, Marí Alkatiri; PNTL Commander, Faustino da Costa; Pastor Jovito do Rego, and others.

Foreign Minister Dionísio Babo Soares, who resigned from his post last week (Image/Egas Cristóvão)

PM to CNRT Ministers: Keep Doing Your Job – for now

Another major change in the Council of Ministers membership came last week, when five members of CNRT resigned their ministries.

The five members are:
– Minister for Foreign Affairs, Dionísio Babo Soares;
– Minister of Education, Dulce Soares;
– Vice-Minister of State Administration, Abílio Caetano;
– Secretary State of Youth and Sport, Nelio Isaac Sarmento;
– and Secretary State of Cooperation, Arsénio da Silva.

The group all submitted their resignation letters by the Monday May 27th deadline set by party leader, Xanana Gusmão.

However, Dionísio da Costa Babo Soares confirmed to TATOLI on Friday via facebook that the prime minister has asked the five to remain in their roles until the resignation is “formalised” by President Francisco Guterres.

“During this time, although [we have] submitted the letter of resignation, the members of government are still doing their work, and wait for the official resignation from the President of the Republic,” Mr Soares said.

He said that Taur Matan Ruak cited Article 86(h) of the constitution in making the request, and that it was a decision of the government, not party leaders, to carry on in the job.

CNRT now sits in the minority in parliament, with the PLP-KHUNTO-FRETILIN-UDT bloc enjoying a majority 41 of the 65 seats.

First published on May 30 in Tetum: PM Otimista Prezensa Membru Governu Foun Haforsa VIII Governu.
See also: PM Taur Husu ba MG-CNRT Mantein Lai Hein Ezonerasaun Formál

Journalist: Cipriano Colo, Eugénio Pereira, Francisco Simões

Editors: Robert Baird, Cancio Ximenes

Translation: Nelia Borges

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