East Timor: CNRT will negotiate new government if president swears in MPs

The National Congress of East Timor Reconstruction (CNRT), the largest party in the coalition of East Timor’s government, only accepts to negotiate any new executive if the president, Francisco Guterres Lu-Olo, retreats and swears in the ministers of the party.

Duarte Nunes, the head of the CNRT, told Lusa that this change of position on the president is a precondition for the political force, led by Xanana Gusmão, to accept any new executive.

“The condition imposed by the party is that if we form another government, the president must swear in the list of ministers that the prime minister presented. It is the only condition that is imposed,” said Duarte Nunes in a statement to Lusa.

Lu-Olo explained to journalists that calling early elections is the last resort to resolve the crisis in the country, that parties in parliament must find a solution and that, until then, Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak remains in office.

Xanana Gusmão, for his part, said in a television interview over the weekend that early elections are the only fair and democratic solution to the political crisis in the country.

This failure to pass the budget, due to votes against and abstentions by CNRT MPs, comes after months of criticism by CNRT of Lu-Olo’s decision to refuse to swear in more than a dozen members of the government, the majority of Xanana Gusmão’s party.

Admitting that it is still possible for CNRT to participate in an alternative government solution, Duarte Nunes said that if the position of the president is maintained, there is no interest of the party in doing so.

On Tuesday in parliament, Duarte Nunes referred to the contradiction of those who try to blame the CNRT for the crisis, continuing to criticise the party and its leader, Xanana Gusmão.

Regarding the situation of the Alliance for Change for Progress (AMP), the pre-election coalition of the government, Duarte Nunes did not say whether or not there will be formal dissolution and said that the understanding is that the current prime minister hands over the portfolio if there is an alternative solution.