Thursday 5 April 2007
Fretilin condemns Xanana's abuse of power
Fretilin, the largest political party in Timor-Leste (East Timor)
today accused the country's outgoing president Xanana Gusmao of
abusing the office of Head of State by interfering in elections to
choose a new president.
Filomeno Aleixo, a member of the party's central committee and
national political commission, said President Gusmao was filmed on
national television attending a rally in support of Jose Ramos Horta's
presidential campaign at Dili Stadium yesterday.
"The President of the Republic is supposed to be an independent person
and should not be endorsing candidates in elections. This is a clear
abuse of his power as President", Aleixo said
"As Head of State, the President should be setting an example by
promoting a fair and transparent vote. It is his role to strengthen
the independence of the country's institutions and ensure that there
is no manipulation of the presidential elections.
"The President has no right to use his office to try to hand pick his
Fretilin is supporting the former guerrilla fighter and parliamentary
chairman Francisco Guterres Lu Olo for president.
Aleixo said the latest comments by Father Martinho Gusmao, the
Catholic church's representative on the National Electoral Commission
and the Commission's official spokesperson, clearly prejudiced the
outcome of Monday's ballot.
Martinho Gusmao, director of the justice and peace commission for the
Baucau diocese, voiced support for a presidential candidate, Fernando
de Araujo "Lasama" at a Jakarta Press Club workshop in Dili yesterday.
He also told the workshop he was drafting the bishops' pastoral letter
to be read on Easter Sunday the day before Monday's election.
"For the commission's spokesperson to openly declare support for a
candidate is a flagrant and serious abuse of power," Aleixo said.
Aleixo called on the Catholic Church to remove Martinho as its
representative on the Electoral Commission and for the Commission to
remove him as Commission spokesman.
Aleixo said many senior church figures recognised the need for the
church to remain impartial during the electoral process and Fretilin
had no problem with the behaviour of the church as a whole during the
"Fretilin will lodge a complaint to the Commission in relation to this
latest demonstration of blatant political bias by Martinho Gusmao," he
"A spokesperson for the National Electoral Commission should not be
openly declaring his support for any candidate. His job is to help
ensure the Commission acts as an independent body in the service of
free and fair presidential and parliamentary elections.
"This is the latest in a series of statements by Martinho Gusmao, to
both local and international media which have been designed to
manipulate the electoral process.
"The National Electoral Commission must act against Martinho Gusmao to
restore its impartiality."
For more information contact:
Filomeno Aleixo: (+670) 724 3460 (Dili)
Jose Manuel Fernandes (Lu Olo's official election representative)
(+670) 734 2174 (Dili)
Arsenio Bano: (+670) 723 0023 (Dili)
Sahe Da Silva (+670) 733 5060
Paulo Araujo (+670) 424 413 525 (Darwin, Australia)