Subject: RT: Fretilin says may form minority E.Timor government

Fretilin says may form minority E.Timor government

09 Jul 2007 10:57:55 GMT

Reuters

By Tito Belo

DILI, July 9 (Reuters) - East Timor's ruling party, Fretilin, plans to form a minority government if attempts to link up with coalition partners fail after recent parliamentary elections, the party's secretary general said on Monday.

The plan comes after CNRT, a party set up by former president Xanana Gusmao, said last week it had lined up partners to form a coalition government. CNRT came second in the June 30 polls with 24 percent of the vote, behind Fretilin's 29 percent support.

"We are still negotiating with other parties and we have already submitted letters to them," said Mari Alkatiri, who stepped down as prime minister last year after a wave of violence when the army split along regional lines.

"We are awaiting their response, but if they all refuse to cooperate with us it means that we must form a minority government."

Fretilin won 21 seats in the 65-seat chamber in the election, Faustino Cardos Gomes, the head of the National Election Commission, said on Monday.

CNRT won 18 seats, while the Association of Timorese Democrats-Social Democratic Party (ASDT-PSD) won 11 and the Democratic Party 8. Other smaller parties took the rest.

Gusmao's CNRT, which the resistance hero established this year as a vehicle to become prime minister, ASDT-PSD and the Democratic Party said on Thursday they had formed a coalition.

"ENTITLED"

Alkatiri said that Fretilin was entitled to appoint the prime minister and form a government under the constitution since it had won the most votes.

But a spokesman for the CNRT alliance said by telephone the group had a majority so it could form a government.

"We are still discussing who will be prime minister and ministers. The coalition will have strong governance because we have many representative in the national parliament...," spokesman Zacarias da Costa said by telephone.

Both Fretilin and CNRT had ruled out forming a unity government, an idea floated by President Jose Ramos-Horta.

Julio Tomas Pinto, an analyst at the National University of Timor Leste, said political leaders needed to work together.

"I think if Fretilin governs the consequence is the (CNRT) alliance will not approve the annual budget," he said.

On the other hand, he said, if the CNRT alliance formed a government security could be threatened since Fretilin supporters would feel left out in the cold after winning the most votes.

Fretilin, which led the 24-year struggle against Indonesia, remains popular, especially in the east of the country, but its candidate fared badly in the recent presidential election.

Gusmao, who ended his term as president in May, appears to have become increasingly frustrated by the pace of progress under Fretilin and the factional infighting that was blamed for contributing to the chaos and bloodshed last year.

Factional fighting broke out in East Timor last year, triggered by the Fretilin government's sacking of 600 rebellious soldiers. In the ensuing mayhem 37 people were killed and 150,000 driven from their homes.

Foreign troops led by Australia intervened to restore order, but sporadic violence and unrest have continued.


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