|Subject: Lusa: New Broad-based Party
Gathering Influential Support
East Timor: New Broad-based Party Gathering Influential Support 16 Aug-18:00
A group of prominent East Timorese leaders, spanning the Territory's historical political spectrum, are organizing a new center-right political party with the apparent blessing of independence leader Xanana Gusmao, a key organizer said Wednesday.
To be called the Social Democratic Party (PSD), the new group will make its formal debut on Sept. 3-4, the first anniversary of the announcement of the pro-independence results of the plebiscite last Aug. 30, Mario Carrascalao, a CNRT vice president, told Lusa in Dili.
The PSD "will be one more option for those who do not have one and for those who do not feel mobilized for the period of reconstruction," said Carrascalao, a former governor under Indonesian rule.
"About 10" leading personalities, he added, were involved in organizing the party, including fellow CNRT vice president Jose Ramos Horta. Ramos Horta confirmed his involvement to Lusa.
Other sources said both Gusmao, the CNRT president, and the Territory's two influential Catholic bishops backed the initiative.
Observers said the new party would seek support among people tired of "the revivalism of the past" of the historic Fretilin and UDT parties, whose brief but bloody 1975 civil war served Indonesia as a pretext to invade and annex the territory.
East Timor: New Political Party a 'Joke'
The leader of the Timorese Democratic Union (UDT), Joao Carrascalao, downplayed Thursday the impact of a new center-right political party in East Timor - a project he termed "nothing more than a joke in bad taste."
"It's more than a joke because the people involved in this PSD (Social Democratic Party) had previously announced the creation of a democratic-Christian party, which leads me to believe that it will have nothing to do with social democracy," Carrascalao said.
His comments followed Wednesday statements by his brother Mario Carrascalao, a former governor of East Timor during the Indonesian occupation, who confirmed to Lusa preparations to set up a social democratic party, adding that the project would count the support of several leading East Timorese public figures, among them Jose Ramos Horta.
"At a recent CNRT (National Council of Timorese Resistance) meeting, Jose Ramos Horta said he would never agree with Mario Carrascalao as vice president of the CNRT," Joao Carrascalao said. Mario Carrascalao and Ramos Horta are nevertheless both vice president of the CNRT, the territory's umbrella leadership body, which is headed by Xanana Gusmao.
Joao Carrascalao guaranteed Thursday that the UDT would neither disappear nor form a coalition with the future PSD. He referred rather to approaches to "other Timorese parties," namely Labor, the KOTA monarchist party, the PST (Timorese Socialist Party) and even Fretilin (Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of East Timor).
Fretilin and the UDT are main components of the CNRT and together resisted the Indonesian occupation of East Timor, which ended last October. Twenty-five years ago they were the main protagonists of the brief but bloody civil war that preceded the Indonesian invasion. JBC -Lusa
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