Subject: RT: Ramos Horta 'will ask Gusmao to govern' on Monday

Ramos Horta 'will ask Gusmao to govern'

August 3, 2007 - 7:54PM


East Timor's president Jose Ramos Horta has said he will ask a coalition led by his predecessor, Xanana Gusmao, to form a government on Monday if rival parties fail to end a deadlock over who should govern the tiny country.

Timor's former ruling party, Fretilin, and an alliance led by Gusmao have both claimed the right to rule the deeply divided nation after the June 30 legislative elections produced no clear winner.

Ramos Horta told state-run East Timor Radio and Television that a government led by Gusmao's coalition would be more sustainable because it formed a majority in parliament.

"Based on my interpretation and based on the will of the people and my assessment in national parliament, Grand Alliance can form a government because they will approve the national budget," he said late on Thursday.

"The decision comes from my conscience, not from any pressure," the president, a close ally of Gusmao, said.

The former ruling party, Fretilin, which led East Timor's 24-year struggle against Indonesian rule, has rejected Ramos Horta's proposal and threatened to boycott parliament.

It says it has the right to form a government because it won most votes in the elections.

The party has proposed the appointment of an all-inclusive government with an independent prime minister as a way to end the stalemate.

Factional bloodshed broke out in the impoverished country of about one million people last year, forcing tens of thousands of people to flee their homes.

The mayhem, during which 37 people were killed, was triggered by a government decision to sack 600 soldiers.

Ramos Horta urged Fretilin supporters not to resort to violence if the party was left out of the government.

"Fretilin out of the government doesn't mean that they are ignored. Fretilin has 21 deputies in national parliament, and most of the public service are from Fretilin so the new government will need them, I don't want to see any discrimination toward them," he said.

"My appeal to the people, don't get involved in criminal acts. If you're involved in criminal acts, your party will not be trusted by the international community," Ramos Horta said.

Fretilin won 21 seats in the 65-member parliament in the June poll, far short of the majority required to rule.

The CNRT, a party founded this year by Gusmao, won 18 seats. It has declared a coalition with other parties to form a majority in parliament.


August 4, 2007

East Timor president to announce country's new government

DILI (AP): East Timor's president was scheduled to announce the formation of the next government on Wednesday as former Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri declared he was in the running for his old job.

There are fears the decision on the next prime minister and other top government posts could spark fresh violence in the country just over a year after Alkatiri was ousted following bloodshed that brought the nation close to civil war.

President Jose Ramos-Horta is set to use his constitutional right to choose the next government because June parliamentary elections failed to produce a clear winner and the parties have been unable to agree among themselves on who should govern.

Alkatiri - who has many bitter enemies in East Timor's ruling elite - had said he would not be running for premier, but announced Wednesday he had agreed to be candidate of the Fretilin party, a move likely to increase political tension.

"Fretilin leaders at a meeting yesterday decided to appoint me as the candidate for the prime minister post and I am ready to be back," he told reporters.

Fretilin insists it has the right to form a government because it won the most seats in June, even though it fell far short of a majority.

A coalition of parties headed by Xanana Gusmao, who led East Timor's struggle against Indonesian rule, commands more seats than Fretilin and says it should form a government. The alliance has said Gusmao is its candidate for prime minister.

Both blocks have rejected calls by Ramos-Horta to form a unity government.

Ramos-Horta's office said he would announce his decision later Wednesday.

East Timor, a tiny nation of less than a million people, is facing major security, humanitarian and economic challenges just five years after it officially became Asia's newest state.

Unemployment hovers at around 50 percent, and aid agencies have warned that a fifth of the population is threatened by food shortages after crop failures. Gang battles frequently break out and some 100,000 people forced from their homes during last year's violence still live in tented camps. (**)

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