East Timor: Government benches consider protest against president ‘subversive’

Representatives of the three government benches in the Timorese parliament on Tuesday said the members of a movement to challenge the president were “subversive”, although they agreed that the issue should be resolved by the police.

“We consider the movement’s action to be subversive. They intend to create an environment of destabilization of the country and provoke an uncontrolled situation,” Francisco Branco, of the Revolutionary Front of Independent Timor-Leste (Fretilin), the largest party in parliament told Lusa.

Branco and representatives of the Popular Liberation Party (PLP) and Kmanek Haburas Unidad Nacional Timor Oan (KHUNTO) contested today the actions of the National Resistance movement for the Defense of Justice and the Constitution of East Timor, led by Angela Freitas and Antonio Aitan-Matak.

In particular, Branco referred to a document the movement produced and circulated publicly, in which they threaten to resort to martial arts groups and even “dissident forces of the defence forces and armed police.

“It is a document and an action that intends to create the destabilization of the state and the country,” he said.

The three parties consider the language of the document to be “subversive spirit,” seeking to “force the president to resign from office under threat.

Despite the movement’s protests, Francisco Branco said he disagreed with the decision to send a group of military personnel to the vicinity of the movement’s headquarters today after the military commander threatened the leaders of the prison group.

“I think the deployment of the military should not have been done. This is an issue that should be controlled by the police, who gave authorisation for the demonstration [scheduled for Friday], and not by the military,” he said.

The command of the Timorese armed forces today deployed a small contingent of military personnel to the street of the movement’s headquarters.

The armed forces were deployed at three points on rua Água da Fonte, near the government palace, where the headquarters of the Labour Party (PT), led by Ângela Freitas, is located.

“If in this peaceful action of the group any crime arises, I myself will take the forces to arrest the entire leadership that organized this action. I will have Angela and Aitahan Matak arrested. If they want to overthrow the ‘katuas’ [elders] through a demonstration, I’ll order the forces to act and I’ll take responsibility for responding in court and for human rights,” threatened Lere Anan Timur, commander of the Timor-Leste Defense Forces (F-FDTL).

Speaking to Lusa, Angela Freitas said she would not go to the party headquarters right now because she is in talks with the national police and the Public Prosecutor’s Office for what she considers to be “an action of intimidation” of the military commander.

“We heard the statements of the commander Lere. These threats to a civilian are a crime. We are in a democratic country and I have every right to express my dissatisfaction with what I consider to be violations of the Constitution,” she told Lusa.

Freitas said that the deployment of military personnel around her party’s headquarters is “dictatorship behaviour with military forces, which is very dangerous in a democratic country.

Francisco Branco admitted that “more care is needed by military leaders in political statements,” admitting that in this case “there may have been some excess” in Lere Anan Timur’s comments.

“We have to see the other positive side of the comments, which is to try to avoid the greater evil of destabilization,” he added.