Despite making claims that FRETILIN would win an outright majority on the recent 7 July national election Mari Alkatiri Secretary General Of FRETILIN is now dealing with a different reality.
According to a senior FRETILIN leader is told TEMPO SEMANAL that FRETILIN has been trying for two days to gain access to the Xanana Gusmao, President of CNRT which got the most votes. This source has informed Tempo Semanal that FRETILIN is trying to open a discussion about how FRETILIN can make a coalition government with CNRT.
FRETILIN seeking coalition so as to gain access to legislative powers to help change the constitution and pass a number of laws.
While Xanana’s allies the PD and Frente Mudanca party leadership have already met with Xanana the day after the election, FRETILIN remains locked out. PD and Frente Mudanca are old allies of Xanana in the previous AMP government. According to some analysts PD and Frente Mudanca have more chance at forming a coalition with Xanana’s CNRT to establish a new coalition Government. This is due to the fact that FRETILIN and Alkatiri have long opposed Xanana’s Strategic Development plan. But according to Tempo Semanal sources within FRETILIN the party's leadership is now looking to push Alkatiri to agree with Xanana's Development plan.
While FRETILIN has increased is Parliamentary seats from 21 to 24 Xanana’s CNRT party has increased more to a total of 30 seats and has moved from second most voted party in 2007 to first most voted party in 2012.
The following is an exclusive interview between Tempo Semanal and Mari Alkatiri conducted on 9 July 2012.
TS: During the FRETILIN campaign for the parliamentary elections you repeatedly called for an end to attacks on XANANA GUSMAO, why has your party changed its policy?
MA. We did not really call for an end on criticism of XANANA. But I do believe that the leaders of our generation need to hand over power to the next generation. We should not just hand over power but also show a good example to the next generation. We need to show a good example, in order to think about the way forward. Sooner or later we have to hand political power and leadership to the new generation. Not only goodwill. It’s not enough. But we need to set a good example. It is about the day-to-day life of practicing politics, and not just about attacking each other as enemies. We are not enemies. Of course we not think in the same way. This is part of the democracy. We have to think about the interest of the people and the interest of the nation.
TS: Is this a new maneuver to save your party?
MA: I am not speaking on behalf of the party. But we came from the same roots and with the same beliefs. And we have the same objectives. This is the point. Parties are important for our democracy. But we need to think of the future of the nation, in such a way we can really free the people from poverty. Our new cause is how to combat poverty and free the people from poverty. I think we (1974 generation) are not more than three to five people. We really need to hand over everything to the new generation.
TS: Do you mean the 1974-generation like Ramos HORTA and XANANA?
MA: Yes. Ramos HORTA and myself are the founders of this nation. The other founders have passed away recently. He is Francisco Xavier do AMARAL. XANANA GUSMAO is a person whom since 1979 to 1999 led the resistance until the end of our struggle. Of course he joined FRETILIN in 1975, and he lead the resistance for more then 20 years. It is s very important to have this generation from 1974 and 1975 to be able to think about the future of the nation without us.
TS: Do you mean you are seeking a coalition between the leadership of the older generation?
MA: I am not looking for a coalition to lead the government. But I am looking for a coalition of good ideas and good will. I am looking for a coalition of objectives or targets.
TS: Is there any response from Mr. XANANA to your proposal? If not what are you going to do to convince XANANA to accept your offer?
MA: I will keep repeating my appeal. Of course I think XANANA is a person of good will. He is also a dreamer for the best of our people. And I do still believe that immediately after the election we will sit together and try to think about it.
TS: If the 1974 and 1975 generation can’t accept your idea what would be the consequences to the founders of this nation?
MA: It means we fail. This is really a failure from our side. And then soon or later our people will reject us.
TS: People are discussing the possibility of coalition between FRETILIN and CNRT in time to prevent the history of 2007. But some do not believe that FRETILIN and CNRT will be able to sit in the same table of council ministers. What are your feelings on this?
MA: I think we can’t really make this kind of equation of the historic leaders to be away from a political power and to support or assist those one going to govern the country. It’s not easy for us to have coalition with every political party. But one thing has to be respected. The winner has to lead the coalition and not the second place party. This is the point if we are to respect the will of the people. The winner is to lead a coalition.
TS: How to prevent the 2007 scenario which FRETILIN was not able make a coalition with any party and the President invited the second most voted party which able to form a coalition to establish a Government. People are arguing that the constitution is vague and there is no time frame set so as to allow people to interpret it according to their own way. What’s your interpretation?
MA: For me my interpretation of the constitutions is clear. The most voted party has to be invited by the President of the Republic to lead the government. If it fails to be able to create a coalition then the President has the opportunity to invite others or the second most voted party to do so. But the President cannot choose the second most voted party before allowing the first most voted the opportunity to establish a coaltion.
TS: So what happened in 2007 was that FRETILIN as the first most voted party was not given the chance to form the government but President called in the second most voted party which was able to form a coalition for government in that time.
MA: Yes. It was unconstitutional.