Subject: Translation of Press with Dr. Mari Alkatiri in Lisbon

Thursday, 16 April 2009


NV – Lusa

Lisbon, 16 April (Lusa) – he former Timorese Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri accused the current head of the Timor-Leste Government Xanana Gusmao, of making concessions (giving into demands) to remain in power and urged him to “liberate himself from this” and resing.

In an interview with Lusa Agency in Lisbon, Alkatiri said that FRETILIN, the party that leads the Timorese oppostion, never had doubts that the alliance of the parliamentary majority that governs the country is no more than a “patchwork quilt (….), an alliance of extortionists.”

“Xanana, at this moment, is under pressure and really subjected to extortion, conceding here, there and there. We only have to look. The MPs each wanted a car and said that if they did not receive a car they would vote against the budget; they got their car,” affirmed Alkatiri.

Mari Alkatiri added that, “after this, (the MPs) asked for a salary increase.”

“A scandalous increase was approved in the 2009 Budget. An increase of 500 percent, or more. Nowhere else in the world would there be a 500 percent increase,” he suggested, adding that this “shows that the MPs had made up their minds that if they had voted against the budget then there would have been an institutional crisis and the President would have dissolved the parliament and called early legislative elections.

“If I had been the Prime Minister, I would have said to the MPs to vote against the budget but I would not have conceded on this. I will not concede for sure. In fact because I went through this experience myself, even when we were the sole majority party. I said that if you want to vote against, you vote, but the country still has other priorities,” he stated.

Alkatiri said in reference to the alliance “there are those who want everything and those who want everything beyond power and so concessions have to be continuously made in order to remain in power.”

“It is a pity for me when we are speaking of a figure such as is Xanana Gusmao. Because Xanana is still needed for the country for at least 10 or 15 years. He is burying himself in this, these self destructing alliances (…). Xanana has to become aware of this quickly. He should free himself of this,” he advocated, pointing to resignation as a way out.

‘This is the only way of freeing himself of this, either he resigns or the President of the Republic dissolves the parliament to hold early elections,” opined the leader of the largest party of the Timorese opposition, which for more than a year has challenged a decision by Jose Ramos-Horta, because parliament does not function.

Alkatiri lamented that, even during this week, although Mondays and Tuesdays are set down for sessions of parliament, the sessions could not take place, delaying the debate of important laws for the country.

“What are we doing? When we speak of an institutional crisis we are not speaking only of when the budget is not approved, not only when the government program is not approved. I think that the President of the Republic should assume this responsibility,” he added, advocating that the holding of early legislative elections has a problem with “timing”, because the country cannot hold three sets of elections this year – municipal, community and legislative - , one would have to be put off.

Questioned regarding contacts between FRETILIN and the government for a possible integration in the executive of members of the opposition, mari Alkaitiri dismissed any truth of any such initiative.

“What we have been proposing since December 2007, is the creation of mechanisms of inclusion outside of the Government. (…) During the phase of constructing the State (as we are now in) whoever governs has to have the capacity to be inclusive to the maximum and create consensus in the areas of Public Administration, the area of Defence and Security, the area of good governance, the area of justice. These are the foundations of the State”, he clarified.

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