Subject: East Timor president threatens to resign, parliament reverses course

East Timor president threatens to resign

Posted : Wed, 09 Sep 2009 13:05:38 GMT

Author : DPA

Dili - East Timor President Jose Ramos-Horta on Wednesday threatened to resign if the parliament continued to show him disrespect as head of state. On Tuesday, parliament voted 18 to 16 with three abstentions, against his planned visit to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly - to protest a recent government decision to release a militia leader accused of human rights crimes.

But on Wednesday, the parliament reversed its decision, voting 31 to one, with five abstentions, in favour of the trip, after the president threatened to resign over the matter.

"I am pleased that parliament today reversed their vote of yesterday," said Ramos-Horta. He noted that as president he was not soley responsible for the decision to free Laksaur-Maternus Bere, accused of participating in a church massacre 10 years ago.

"Under the constitution I am not accountable to parliament, the prime minister yes, but because prime minister has members of parliament. I don't have any members of parliament; they all play politics and they decided to attack the president," Ramos-Horta said.

"Today I told the diplomatic corps I would resign because when the president of republic is disrespected by parliament with these petty politics, I have no more condition to continue to work," he said, noting that if he resigned a new election would be called within three months.

"I will not accept anymore disrespect from anyone as president of this country," Ramos-Horta said.

The militia leader was arrested August 8 on charges of homicide, sexual violence and torture in the church of Nossa Senhora de Fatima Suai-Covalima in 1999.

But the government, apparently under pressure form Indonesia, decided to release him earlier this month, raising questions about the legality of the move.

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