Subject: XG: Address of the President of the Republic to the National Parliament 14 June 2006



Address of H. E. the President of the Republic, Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, to the National Parliament

14 June 2006 (1)

Your Excellency the President of the National Parliament

Heads of Parliamentary Benches

Distinguished Members of Parliament

Our Country and People who have elected us to serve them are currently undergoing an unacceptable situation and we must all think about it with seriousness and honesty.

We have no other choice but to measure the political acts that we have been consciously or unconsciously undertaking that have once again contributed to the suffering of our People as a result of our lack of political capacity to solve the problems that fell upon our hands and that we either could not or did not want to decipher with our knowledge about the reality of Timor-Leste.

I am not accusing anybody! I am drawing the attention of the State, of all of the organs of sovereignty of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste for a rigorous examination of conscience as we must be accountable to our people.

On several occasions in this august assembly, I have had the opportunity to warn of the possibility of it being us, the Timorese, to cause the death of other Timorese. I have also raised the point that we must not allow our people to become victims of armed conflicts and political violence yet again.

When the Constituent Assembly was drafting the Constitution of the Republic at the end of 2001, I was a common citizen without any activity or political influence over the drafting process. From 20 May 2002 onwards, I have been the President of the Republic and it is incumbent upon me to be the guardian of the Constitution. And to be a guardian of the Constitution of the Republic basically means to safeguard the democratic state based on the rule of law. To the happiness of some and to the discontent of others, I will continue to fulfill this sacred duty of safeguarding the democratic state based on the rule of law until the end of my mandate in May 2007. And I will do so unwaveringly and the people can be sure of that.

Mr President

Distinguished Members of Parliament

I wish to thank the trust that you have placed on me for having unanimously approved a resolution in support of the Presidential Statement of 30 May last, which was reached after consultation with the Council of State, and for also having supported the Action Plan, approved by the Superior Council for Defence and Security, which met on 2 June.

We have witnessed the State become paralised in the wake of all the events that took place in Dili, and worse than that, we have witnessed that the population is suffering from the consequences of violence and destruction that arose from it.

I commend the efforts undertaken by the Ministry of Labour and Community Reintegration and the Ministry of Health in providing assistance to the affected populations and I also wish to express my gratitude to the Cuban doctors, deployed nationwide and particularly those in Dili, who have worked under difficult conditions.

I commend the national and international NGOs that have made strenuous efforts to alleviate the suffering of the people. I also commend the important work undertaken by the Reverend Bishop of Dili, Alberto Ricardo, as well as the work undertaken by the Reverend Priests and Nuns, not only in welcoming the populations but also in providing psychological assistance to them and motivating them to have a steadfast belief that everything will end well and that our land will achieve long-lasting stability and peace.

I would also like to take advantage of this opportunity, on behalf of the People of Timor-Leste, to express our solidarity with the brotherly people of Indonesia and our sympathy for the victims of the earthquake in Yogyakarta, which caused the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people. In spite of facing these problems caused by a natural disaster, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, on behalf of the State, Government and People of Indonesia, was magnanimous in his gesture for helping us to alleviate the suffering of our own people. I wish to express our profound gratitude and my profound belief that the ties of friendship and cooperation that unite our two countries will become increasingly stronger.

I hope the National Parliament will not prevent me from going to Bali next Saturday to personally express our sentiments to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

Mr President

Distinguished Members of Parliament

This crisis has shaken all of us, reminding us that something was wrong. In politics, the nonrecognition of a mistake, even if it is a small one, can lead us to make greater mistakes. It is only by becoming conscious that something did not work out well that we will be able to rectify and make improvements.

We are repeating September 1999, albeit in a smaller scale, which forced us to request the international intervention of the Defence and Security Forces of friendly countries. And this should frighten all of us who were elected by this people to ensure stability, security and better living conditions to all citizens.

I was against foreign participation in the solution of our problems from the very beginning because we should be the ones to shoulder this responsibility. But I finally consented to it because the situation was already getting outside of our control. We are grateful for the promptness with which Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia and Portugal responded to our request and we see that these international Forces have been doing an admirable job in gradually re-establishing normalcy day after day.

But we must think that this intervention will last longer than what we have imagined for several reasons, but particularly for knowing that there are weapons in the hands of civilians. And the big problem is that shots have already been heard almost everywhere in the territory, as if they were drawing our attention to this extremely serious situation.

We are coordinating with Force Commander Brigadier Slater in looking at the next phase of activity, which will be extended to the districts as we cannot allow the population in the interior of the country to live in a climate of insecurity and fear, under the threat of losing their lives and property, as has happened in Dili.

Last Sunday, 11 June, the President of the National Parliament, the Prime Minister and myself signed a letter addressed to the UN Secretary-General, where we requested a robust force, comprised of a military, police and civilian components to consolidate this process of stabilising the country after UNOTIL. The letter also requested the UN Secretary-General to consider extending UNOTIL for an additional month, starting from 20 June. UNPOL will remain in Timor-Leste for a period not less than one year, taking into account the 2007 elections. The possibility of having a Peacekeeping Force was also considered, should it be necessary to ensure that all the weapons in the hands of civilians will be collected.

It has already been agreed that a Special Rapporteur will investigate the events of 28 April. There will be an investigation into the 25 May as well as into all other relevant cases such as the incidents in Fatu Ahi and Taci Tolu. It was agreed that an International Investigation would be established to look into all of this.

Distinguished Members of Parliament

During meetings in the Council of State and in the Superior Council for Defence and Security we adopted a working mechanism that was summarised into the following expression: ‘what happened yesterday, has already happened; we will not talk about yesterday today because our very first priority is to put an end to all the violence and destruction of goods and property and ensure that adequate humanitarian assistance is provided to the population in need. With regard to what happened yesterday, we will have a long time to talk about it later and to execute the action plan to re-establish the normal functioning of the activities of the State as well as private activities, let us spare ourselves from pointing our fingers at each other’.

I appeal everyone to concentrate our efforts into re-establishing the activities of the State. The Budget will be submitted at the Parliament for debate and I ask that particular attention be paid to it. Time flies and the need to respond to the problems that our people are facing is extremely urgent in nature. There is a substantial increase, up to approximately US$312 million, in the budget. Under the heading of public grants, there are many funds such as the solidarity fund, community development fund, rural credit fund, habitation fund, social activities fund, in addition to the US$8 million for food security and US$10 million for the reconstruction of houses that were burnt over these last few weeks.

There is also an increase in salaries, whose percentage will be equivalent to the various levels of salary scale and a subsidy for those who live in isolated places and who are engaged in border control activities.

Let us all continue to demand transparency in the Government’s handling of these funds so that we know that the population truly gained from the money and benefits. In conclusion, I wish to inform that the Prime Minister and I have arrived at a political compromise with regard to the Penal Code. I would have promulgated the Penal Code with defamation still being criminalised, except that with a penalty of a fine and not of prison. The Legislative Authorisation granted to the Government to draft the Penal Code already prescribed the criminalisation of defamation.

For the Government to redraft the articles relating to defamation within the framework of the principles I mentioned before, the Government will soon request the National Parliament to extend the previous Legislative Authorisation that will be concluded with the publication of the Penal Code in the Official Gazette which, I believe, will take place soon. I would therefore be grateful for your promptness in extending the deadline of this Legislative Authorisation.

Thanks to all of you.

1 Translated from the original in Portuguese

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