Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Prime Minister Xanana Keeps Door Closed to his Foreign Minister Zacarias da Costa

Next week Prime Minister Xanaana Gusmao will visit New York and address the United Nations Security Council to discuss the past performance of the United Nations Integrated Mission in Timor-Leste (UNMIT) as well as its future.

In a dramatic move the Prime Minister has refused to allow the Foreign Minister to accompany him on this key trip, the first time that Prime Minister Xanana will address the Security Council has Head of Government.

Foreign Minister da Costa: Not invited again.
Xanana and Foreign Minister Zacarias do Costa were involved in a political confrontation in April / May 2010 in which FM Zac as President of the PSD party (a member of the ruling AMP coalition) threatened to resign as a result of internal conflict with the Prime Minister.  The Prime Minister subsequently refused Minister Zacarias entry into his own Ministry.  The affair ended in the humiliating online live national TV dressing down during a Council of Ministers meeting in May 2010.

Since November 2009 Foreign Minister Zacarias da Costa has never travelled with the Prime Minister.

According to two sources in the Council of Ministers the door remains closed, and the Foreign Minister has been refused permission to accompany the Prime Minister on a critical trip to New York and the United Nations.

It is widely expected that the Prime Minister will firmly tell the United Nations that the peacekeeping mission in Timor-Leste, the fifth in a series of missions lasting 11 years, should be closed down without delay effective as soon as national elections are complete in 2012.  These elections are widely expected to be aggressively competitive between Xanana's growing CNRT party and the historical liberation party FRETILIN.

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