Subject: Lusa: CNRT Leader Threatens to Force Exit of Fretilin, UDT Ministers

East Timor: CNRT Leader Threatens to Force Exit of Fretilin, UDT Ministers 14 Sept-20:04

East Timorese independence leader Xanana Gusmao threatened Thursday to force the UDT and Fretilin to withdraw their ministers from the territory's transition cabinet if they refuse to take part in meetings of the CNRT/National Congress's Permanent Council.

The UDT and Fretilin, main components of East Timor's umbrella leadership body, have yet to attend a meeting of the Council, which their leaders claim is "not functional."

The Permanent Council was established following the late August congress which reformulated the CNRT (National Council of Timorese Resistance), and aims to enable the component parties to play a greater role in national policy. The bylaws approved at the congress stipulate that the Council should consist of ranking members of all East Timorese political parties and defend terms of the national unity pact also approved at the same gathering.

Fretilin (Revolutionary Front for the Independence of East Timor) leader Mari Alkatiri has claimed the Council "has no powers" and is a "façade." The party has been absent from meetings because it is in the midst of a "consultation phase," with members debating whether or not to participate in the Council, he added.

The leader of the UDT (Timorese Democratic Union), Joao Carrascalao, may also choose to stay out of a Council he said "has no functions." The UDT is not interested in appointing representatives who will be merely "decorative," he stated.

Gusmao, who is president of the CNRT/National Congress, said Thurday he would call a new Council meeting for Saturday, guaranteeing that if Fretilin and the UDT do not appear he will present a motion to remove the parties' three ministers - Mari Alkatiri and Ana Pessoa (Fretilin), and Joao Carrascalao (UDT) - from the tra[n]sition government.

Insisting he was "not joking," Gusmao told Lusa he may even summon an extraordinary congress of the CNRT, to decide on future steps. "It is a pity that instead of thinking of the suffering of the people and the country's difficulties, these individuals (the UDT and Fretilin leaders) are only interested in being ministers," he added.

The CNRT leader traveled later Thursday to the Indonesian island of Bali, for talks with Indonesian authorities and the chief UN transition administrator in East Timor, Sergio Vieira de Mello.

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