|Subject: LUSA: Gusmão threatens to resign
in 'him-or-me' showdown with Alkatiri
Also Lusa: FRETILIN planning coup to "kill country", says Gusmão; AFP: Resignation of ETimor PM will help resolve crisis: observers; RDP: Timorese party says crisis should be resolved constitutionally [ACT]
East Timor: Gusmão threatens to resign in 'him-or-me' showdown with Alkatiri
Dili, June 22 (Lusa) - President Xanana Gusmão announced Thursday he will resign if Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri does not step down as a way to resolve East Timor's political and security crisis.
In an address to the nation, Gusmão, speaking in the local Tetum language, said he would present his resignation to parliament Friday if Alkatiri did not bow to his ultimatum to move out.
The independence war hero issued his threat shortly after a ruling FRETILIN party spokesman told a news conference Alkatiri would not resign, as demanded by the president Tuesday.
The prime minister, contacted by Lusa from Lisbon, confirmed he would not step down, but said he was offering the president a political compromise, including his giving up the oil portfolio and appointing "one or two" deputy prime ministers.
In his speech, Gusmão, directly addressing the FRETILIN party, said he held Alkatiri responsible for "the crisis we are living relative to the survival of the state of democratic law".
He questioned the legality of Alkatiri's leadership of the ruling party, noting he had been re-elected at a mid-crisis party congress in May by an "illegitimate" show-of-hands vote, and demanded FRETILIN "immediately organize" an extraordinary congress to choose new leaders.
If Alkatiri did not resign, "I will send a document to the National Parliament tomorrow (Friday), advising that I am going to leave the Presidency of the Republic because I am ashamed of what the State is doing to the people and I lack the courage to face the people", Gusmão said.
"I ask the people to quiet down because at this moment of crisis we all must reflect well to avoid more violence and destruction in our country", he said, referring to the wave of violence that began sweeping Dili in late April.
At a news conference shortly before the president spoke, FRETILIN's deputy secretary-general José Reis said: "The Prime Minister will not present his resignation to the President of the Republic and appeals to the sovereign bodies to resolve the crisis within the constitutional framework".
He said the party's position was adopted at a meeting of its senior National Political Commission.
Later, Alkatiri told Lusa by telephone that the political commission had approved his proposal, "demonstrating flexibility" for a solution to the crisis, for a government reshuffle in which the prime minister's powers would be shared out.
He described the president's speech as inopportune, saying that "the situation is so complex that any precipitate decision can complicate things even more".
The government restructuring proposal, which Alkatiri said had yet to be discussed by the party's Central Committee on Saturday, involves his giving up the key oil portfolio and creating one or more posts of deputy-prime minister.
The prime minister said FRETILIN's leadership was "doing everything to control" party militants from across East Timor from converging in a show of support on the capital, where some 2,000 international peacekeepers have been deployed since late May.
Gusmão gave Alkatiri an ultimatum by letter Tuesday to either step down or be dismissed, amid allegations the prime minister had illegally armed civilian groups during recent weeks of deadly confrontations in the capital that led to the deployment of international peacekeeping forces.
Gusmão reaffirmed his demand Wednesday during a meeting of his consultative Council of State, adding a threat to resign if the prime minister did not.
Alkatiri then agreed to give a reply after meeting with his ruling party's leadership, according to a Council of State member.
Reis told the news conference Thursday that Alkatiri and Parliament Speaker Francisco Guterres, FRETILIN's president, planned to meet with the head of state Friday, after a meeting scheduled for Thursday was postponed at Gusmão's request.
Meanwhile, Attorney General Longuinhos Monteiro told Lusa that former Interior Minister Rogério Lobato, an Alkatiri stalwart, had been indicted on four charges: "criminal association, illegal possession of arms, conspiracy and attempted revolution".
Longuinhos said that, given the "gravity of the accusations", which carry a maximum penalty of 15 years, his office had asked the court to order Lobato's preventive detention while awaiting trial.
Earlier this week, the Attorney General said no investigation had yet been opened into Alkatiri, although the leader of a self- styled "death squad" has fingered both the prime minister and Lobato as directly responsible for arming the group with orders to kill dissident security forces and political opponents.
The purported hit-team chief, Vicente da Conceição Railos, has said he refused to carry out the order because he considered it "unjust".
Lobato resigned his cabinet post June 1, along with Defense Minister Roque Rodrigues, at Gusmão's demand, but was elected as FRETILIN`s vice-president days later.
At his news conference, FRETILIN's Reis charged Lobato was the victim of political "persecution" and urged the court to differentiate between "a political process and a criminal process".
He called on the ruling party's supporters across East Timor to "remain vigilant and avoid being manipulated".
As violence escalated in Dili since late April and demands mounted for Alkatiri to step down, the prime minister and other party leaders have repeatedly said FRETILIN had only not mobilized "tens of thousands" of supporters in the capital to avoid fueling the crisis.
UN officials say 37 people have been killed and more than 130,000, mostly residents of Dili, displaced by the violence that has involved clashes between rival army and police factions and communal gang rampages of arson and looting.
East Timor: FRETILIN planning coup to "kill country", says Gusmão
Dili, June 22 (Lusa) - Xanana Gusmão accused on Thursday the governing FRETILIN party of carrying out a "coup and killing democracy" in East Timor, during a national broadcast in which he also said he would step down as president if Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri does not take responsibility for a weeks-long crisis and resign.
In a 90-minute broadcast to the nation and speaking in Tetum, Gusmão said that "FRETILIN wants to carry out a coup and kill democracy", adding that he not referring specifically to the purported arming of civilians by senior members of the governing party, but to a more general plan to create instability in the new nation in the run-up to elections in 2007.
"They already have a plan. They made the distribution (of guns) because of elections in 2007 and this is why we here them say only FRETILIN can create stability or instability".
Relations between FRETILIN and Gusmão, who is not a member of the ruling party which has an overwhelming majority in parliament, have gradually worsened since Timor's independence over four years ago and were irrevocably severed this week after the president gave Alkatiri an ultimatum to either resign of be sacked.
Gusmão has blamed Alkatiri for Timor's political and security meltdown in recent months and says he will offer his resignation to parliament Friday if the prime minister and FRETILIN chief does not stand down.
But Alkatiri says he will not resign and that his party has proposed he names one or two deputy prime ministers and gives up his portfolio of natural resources to allow Timor's political crisis to be resolved within a constitutional framework.
The rifts between Gusmão and Timor's dominant ruling party go back to the former guerilla commander's leaving of the then independence movement in 1987.
Resigning from FRETILIN, Gusmão declared his FALANTIL guerilla army to be unaligned with any political party. Until this time, FALANTIL had been the armed with of FRETILIN.
Directly addressing FRTILIN's current leaders in his national address, Gusmão said the party had not managed to change with the times and shake off its original authoritarian Marxist-Leninist nature.
"Today a small group that came from the outside want to repeat the earlier behavior and attitudes from 1975 to 1978", said Gusmão in reference to a dominant faction in the current FRETILIN leadership, including Alkatiri, that was exiled in Mozambique during the Indonesian occupation of Timor.
The Timorese leader was also critical of an emergency FRETILIN congress in May that re-elected party leaders by an "illegal" show-of- hands vote, demanding another congress to elect new leaders through a closed ballot.
Gusmão also accused FRETILIN grandees of having "bought votes" at last months pivotal congress, during which Alkatiri stymied a challenge to his leadership from Timor's UN ambassador.
One FRETILIN delegate at the congress "received USD 100,000 to buy the others", alleged the Timorese head of state.
"I don't know if he divided the money wellÓmaybe he only gave USD 500 to the delegates and kept the rest for himself", said Gusmão, adding that the purported bribes had come from FRETILIN party coffers and that he didn't know the identity of the party official in question.
June 22, 2006 Thursday 11:53 AM GMT
Resignation of ETimor PM will help resolve crisis: observers
SINGAPORE, June 22 2006
The resignation of East Timor's embattled Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri would help resolve a violent crisis, observers in the poverty-stricken nation said Thursday.
"I am 100 percent certain that if he resigns things will be peaceful," Leandro Isaac, an independent member of parliament who helped lead the country's independence movement, told AFP from the East Timor capital, Dili.
The fate of Alkatiri hung in the balance Thursday after President Xanana Gusmao asked him to resign. Alkatiri's opponents and critics have charged that he failed to prevent deadly unrest and was even linked to the violence himself.
Alkatiri has repeatedly denied the allegations and his Fretilin party rallied behind him Thursday.
Gusmao, much-loved by the East Timorese people, then said he himself would submit his resignation to parliament on Friday if Alkatiri did not assume responsibility for the crisis.
In remarks to Portugual's LUSA news agency, Alkatiri however refused to step down, adding, "It would make things even more complicated."
Joaquim Fonseca, a veteran human rights activist in East Timor, told AFP from Dili that Alkatiri's departure would help ease tension following weeks of crisis.
"It will provide an environment whereby a durable solution can be sought," said Fonseca, 36.
Alkatiri has been under pressure to step down since the country plunged into violence a month ago, leading to the deaths of 21 people and the arrival of more than 2,200 foreign peacekeepers to restore calm.
Demanding on Tuesday that Alkatiri stand down, Gusmao cited an Australian television documentary that purported to show evidence that sacked interior minister Rogerio Lobato supplied weapons to a militia unit tasked with assassinating Alkatiri's opponents, on the prime minister's orders.
"He must take responsibility and be brought to court," said Isaac, 52. He said the crisis was at its peak but the removal of Alkatiri would bring resolution because "not more than 100" people were in league with him and would be quickly rounded up following the prime minister's dismissal.
Fonseca agreed that as the head of government Alkatiri should feel responsible -- whether or not he was directly involved in distributing weapons -- that guns belonging to state security forces ended up in civilian hands.
"He controls all the resources that may be used to do anything, so if he steps down it will at least allow the development of the situation where people can at least build confidence again," Fonseca said.
The former Portuguese colony is experiencing its worst crisis since independence in 2002 after a violent separation from Indonesian occupiers.
The unrest erupted after Alkatiri in March sacked 600 soldiers who had complained of discrimination, triggering battles among soldiers, and between soldiers and police, that spiralled into gang warfare.
Isaac alleged a small group of Fretilin members including Alkatiri and Lobato planned "to take back control of Falantil so it would be their own armed force."
Falantil was the guerrilla force -- once led by Gusmao -- that fought for 24 years against Indonesian occupation. It has since evolved into independent East Timor's armed forces.
"They want to have full power, political as well as armed power," Isaac alleged of Alkatiri and his "Mozambique Group" who spent years during East Timor's independence struggle abroad in the African nation.
Fonseca said political differences between Alkatiri and Gusmao were rooted in their divergent attitudes towards the country's liberation struggle.
"Mari Alkatiri maintains that the independence has been obtained through partisan struggle whereas Xanana's view is that the independence is the result of the whole Timorese people."
Fonseca said Fretilin had not had an amicable relationship with other political groups.
"I think there is that fear of political openness because this government isn't really producing very much."
That attitude, he said, had made it hard for people to disbelieve the allegations against Alkatiri.
Both Fonseca and Isaac alleged that a Fretilin party congress last month -- at which Alkatari fought off a leadership challenge -- took place in an atmosphere of intimidation.
BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific - Political Supplied by BBC Worldwide Monitoring
June 22, 2006 Thursday
Timorese party says crisis should be resolved constitutionally [ACT]
[Correcting source and time]
Text of report by Portuguese radio on 22 June
[Presenter] The political crisis in East Timor is growing. In a message to the country in tetum President Xanana Gusmao accused Fretilin's [Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor] leadership of buying the votes of the delegates at the recent party congress, questioning its legitimacy. Xanana Gusmao's address followed a Fretilin news conference, where the party said that Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri would not resign, as Xanana Gusmao demanded. This is an open political war.
Jose Reis, the Fretilin deputy secretary-general, said at this morning's news conference that the prime minister would not resign. He called all the organs of sovereignty to resolve the crisis within the constitutional framework. Jose Reis spoke to us a few moments ago.
[Reis, 09:00:54] We continue to defend - we assume moral and political responsibility to defend our constitution. Everything [changes thought] the resignation will be, the resignation should also be carried out within the constitution's framework. We assume that political responsibility with all the East Timor political sensitivities, all the political parties - we approved our constitution. So what we should do in this crisis is to resolve the problems within the constitution's framework - that is our responsibility, that is our commitment, this is the commitment of our party. [09:01:35]
Source: RDP Antena 1 radio, Lisbon, in Portuguese 0900 gmt 22 Jun 06