Subject: AFP: No government for ETimor until August: President

No government for ETimor until August: President

JAKARTA (AFP) - East Timor's president said Friday after meeting with deadlocked political parties that he did not expect a government to be formed until next month.

None of the parties won an absolute majority of seats in the young nation's parliament in last month's national polls, leaving them arguing over how to form a government.

Final authority to decide rests with President Jose Ramos-Horta, who has been pushing for a unity government. The parties have agreed that parliament should sit on July 30.

"The government should be formed one week after or as soon as the parliament is formed. I hope by August 3, the formation should begin," he told reporters.

"If the political parties talk to each other and find the best way, they will form a government. Otherwise I will make a decision according to my competence and conscience as president," he said.

"So I hope by the first week of August there will be a government in place."

The talks are continuing.

The ruling Fretilin party won 21 seats in the tiny nation's 65-seat parliament in June 30 elections, well short of the majority required to govern.

Trailing in second place was a new movement set up by independence hero Xanana Gusmao, which has allied with three smaller parties and proposed to form a coalition government with 37 seats in parliament.

Mario Carrascalao, head of one of the smaller parties, said that the unity government being pushed by Ramos-Horta was out of the question.

"If everyone enters the government then there won't be time to work. Everyone will be too busy competing, debating and showing their differences," he said.

Ramos-Horta fears the alliance proposed by Gusmao's National Congress for the Reconstruction of East Timor (CNRT) would be unstable, but has said Fretilin cannot form a government as it won insufficient votes.

Elections in the former Portuguese colony followed ongoing violence and political tension since bloodshed on the streets of the capital, Dili, last year.

East Timor gained independence in 2002 after a bloody separation from occupying Indonesia, which ruled it for 24 years.


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