sexta-feira, 30 de janeiro de 2015

Democracy Xanana Style

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By Ted McDonnell - Ted McDonnell

 IT seems likely Timor Leste will have a new Prime Minister within the next few days, if one takes into account rumour and speculation. The confirmation will come very quickly that Xanana Gusmao has stepped down as Timor Leste’s PM and replaced by highly respected current Fretilin senior member Dr. Rui Araujo.

Of the 55 ministers in the current government a number of key ministers have stepped down, or been sacked, including controversial Finance Minister Emilia Pires along with senior serving members of Gusmao’s CNRT Party and Coalition members from the Democratic Party and Frente-Mudança

Apart from his new role as PM, its more than likely Rui Araujo will replace Emilia Pires as Finance Minister with CNRT’s Dionisio Babo and Fretilin’s Estanislau Silva as his deputies. It’s even possible Gusmao will stay on as a senior member of the new government, but that as they say, like everything in Timor Leste, is his call. He may still want to pull the strings being a master puppeteer. 

In the 2012 election, CNRT won 30 seats, both the Democratic Party and FM won 10 seats between with Fretilin capturing 25 seats in the 65 seat assembly. Gusmao upon retaining government appointed an amazing 55 senior and junior Ministers; then immediately bought them all new Toyota four-wheel drives as a prize of government.

As the economy soured; poverty, malnutrition and unemployment worsened and corruption and nepotism hit new heights, even for Timor Leste, Gusmao hit the panic button. This was his “legacy” on the line… be it a fabricated legacy or not. 

So, early in 2014, Gusmao announced he would be retiring later in the year and a new Prime Minister from his CNRT Party would take over and be mentored by a Council of Elders. In August last year, after so-called “pleading" from his Party members Gusmao didn’t resign but announced a “remodelisation” of the government that would see it shrink in size dramatically. Around the same time, Gusmao introduced archaic media laws restricting who can be a journalist in Timor Leste and almost a permit based scheme for foreign journalists, who need government approval to report news in Timor. Shortly, after he sacked Portuguese led foreign judiciary including corruption advisors. He said at the time the foreign judges were sacked because they were “incompetent” after the fledgling country lost a series of oil tax cases to foreign companies. However, the sackings also stopped corruption investigations and court cases against those corrupt Ministers in his government. Throughout this entire period he protected alleged corrupt members of his government including the controversial “hand picked” Emilia Pires.

So, potentially, without an election the entire government of Timor Leste will change and it will most likely, unless Gusmao changes his mind again, have a new Prime Minister. As for the Council of Elders including Lu ‘Olo; JRH and Alkatiri… they seemingly are now sitting on the reserves bench.

But throughout Gusmao’s political stunts and games what has he done to Timor Leste’s democratic process in all of these man-made shenanigans?

The people voted for CNRT in 2012 and Gusmao formed a democratic Coalition government. However, now, as is his want, Gusmao has rewritten the rule book, or thrown it away, once again, and created a new government. 

In do far as the Constitution it would seem the government can do what it wants if it is.
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As for Fretilin they appear politically hamstrung as an Opposition and potential future government. When Rui Araujo becomes the next Prime Minister and Estanislau Silva, serves as one of his deputies, who will they actually represent at the 2017 election — the current Coalition government or Fretilin? There is little doubt Dr. Araujo will make a fine and honest PM for Timor Leste, but most thought he would be a Fretilin PM. 

It seems like the judiciary, freedom of expression and the peoples right to determine a “new” government have all been turfed into the Timor Sea.

In the meantime, Gusmao has so many questions to answer. 

Gusmao has never acknowledged questions surrounding the hundreds of millions of dollars in oil contracts awarded to his nephew Nilton Gusmao; nor has he acknowledged the contracts presented to his other family members. All have been swept under the Gusmao heavy shag carpet. 

Also questions still remain about the murder of 11 Falintil Commanders in 1985; the murder of Alfredo Reinado in 2008 and the assassination attempt on Jose Ramos Horta also in 2008. Gusmao could well hold the key to all these unspoken mysteries in Timor Leste. Could he literally know where the bodies are buried?
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As for the 2017 election what has Gusmao’s latest game done to the solidarity of Fretilin and its prospects in the polls? Have they once again been sucker punched by this wily old fox?
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