Thursday, June 15, 2006

(East Timor Problems) Gusmao blocks calls for PM's removal

"Wednesday, 14 June, 2006 18:25:13
Reporter: Anne Barker

MARK COLVIN: East Timor's President Xanana Gusmao appears to have stymied calls for the removal of the Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.

President Gusmao has resisted pressure to suspend the country's constitution, to dissolve the Parliament and install a transitional government.

In an address to the nation's Parliament this morning, the President declared he would uphold the constitution to safeguard democracy, at least until his term ends next year.

As Anne Barker reports, the announcement comes as East Timor begins its own criminal investigations into the many violent deaths over recent weeks.

(sound of Xanana Gusmao speaking)

ANNE BARKER: It was only a short address before East Timor's Parliament, but Xanana Gusmao's words could have far-reaching implications for this tiny fragile nation.

In Portuguese, he addressed the nation's 88 parliamentarians for the first time since East Timor descended into chaos more than a month ago.

President Gusmao compared the crisis to the bloodshed of 1999, albeit on a smaller scale.

He said the weeks of violence had caused unacceptable suffering and fear and paralysed state institutions. But it's clear the President did not support those who believe the only solution is to suspend East Timor's constitution and dissolve the Parliament.

(sound of Xanana Gusmao speaking)

"It is incumbent on me to be the guardian of the constitution," he said, "and to be a guardian of the constitution 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 fulfil this sacred duty until the end of my mandate in May 2007. And I will do so," he said, "unwaveringly, and the people can be sure of that."

Xanana Gusmao's decision will, in his own words, be a cause of discontent to the many opponents of Mari Alkatiri. There's widespread resentment in the community at the way the Prime Minister has handled the crisis, and continuing allegations that he was involved in some of the deaths.

His opponents can now only take solace in news that United Nations prosecutors have begun a criminal investigation into the various killings.

The UN's Special Representative in East Timor, Sukehiro Hasegawa, says four investigators attached to the Office of East Timor's Prosecutor-General will examine the circumstance surrounding the deaths of 10 police officers in a gunfight last month, and at least five protesters on April the 28th.

SUKEHIRO HASEGAWA: And they have commenced their criminal investigations. They will do so with the view to establishing the accountability of those who are responsible.

ANNE BARKER: What will happen to those who are found to be responsible for the violence?

SUKEHIRO HASEGAWA: I think we cannot presume the outcome of number one the investigations. I think United Nations is totally committed to the principle of justice, therefore it is not incumbent on me to hypothesise what would happen.

ANNE BARKER: So would they be tried?

SUKEHIRO HASEGAWA: I think the course of justice has to take place; this is a democratically principled country.

ANNE BARKER: The United Nations Human Rights Commission, based in Geneva, is setting up its own separate inquiry into the deaths, and Mr Hasegawa appeared to confirm today that there will be an investigation into the allegations against Mari Alkatiri that he was behind the spate of killings.

MARK COLVIN: Anne Barker. "

Source: ABC PM program (UNOTIL Daily Media Review, Public Information Office)

Category: Timor-Leste (East Timor)

Português/Portuguese Français/French Deutsch/German Italiano/Italian Español/Spanish 日本語/Japanese 한국어/Korean 中文(简体)/Chinese Simplified


Thanks for keeping us updated. Would love to hear more from your perspective! (hint, hint)

By Blogger Elizabeth, at 5:40 pm  

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