Subject: Lusa: Gov't pushes through 5-year program in parliament confidence vote

27-06-2002 19:19:00 GMT

East Timor: Gov't pushes through 5-year program in parliament confidence vote

Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri presented and won an overwhelming vote of confidence from East Timor's parliament Thursday for his five- year government program.

The confidence vote was approved by a tally of 69 to four, with seven abstentions. Eight MPs were absent.

Alkatiri, whose ruling Fretilin party holds 55 of parliament's 88 seats, warned last week that he might use his broad majority to speed legislative action, charging oppositionists were wasting time in marginal debates.

Some opposition critics charged the blitz vote of confidence on the cabinet's program set a dangerous precedent for the country that gained its independence May 20.

"Five hours to debate a five-year government program is something never seen", said Clementino Amaral of the Kota party. "The government should have presented its program, allowed us to debate and come back later for a vote of confidence".

Leandro Isaac of the Social Democratic Party charged the goverment was reducing parliament to a "rubber stamp".

Awaiting parliament's approval is the government's proposed USD 85 million (euros 86.7 million) budget, which was presented to the legislature last week and must be acted on by Monday, as the fiscal year begins July 1.

Fiannce Minister Madalena Boavida described the porposed budget as "realistic" and 50 percent below initial estimates.

SAS/ASP -Lusa-

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