Amid the Coronavirus Crisis, Leader calls to Shut Down Parliament

Amid the Coronavirus Crisis, Leader calls to Shut Down Parliament

CNRT's Arão Noé Amaral has been ousted as Parliament President after two years in the position (Image/António Gonçalves)

DILI, May 14, 2020 (TATOLI) – The leader of the National Parliament, Arão Noé Amaral is calling for President Francisco Guterres to dissolve parliament and call an election, citing a “serious institutional crisis.”

Following sustained criticism about his own performance as president – or speaker – Mr Amaral said calls for his dismissal are misguided, given it’s the parliament that has failed to pass the General State Budget for 2020.

Echoing criticism from his CNRT party colleagues, Mr Amaral said Timor-Leste President Francisco Guterres Lú-Olo should have dissolved parliament once the budget had stalled for 60 days – as required by the constitution.

“There’s no way for the members dismiss me as president of the parliament… [because] there’s no time and place for a plenary [vote],” he told reporters yesterday.

In a scathing letter signed on Wednesday by 33 members from PLP, KHUNTO and FRETILIN, the parties accuse Mr Amaral of “abuses of power”.

Leaders from FRETILIN, PLP, and KHUNTO have called for the parliament’s president to step aside (Image/Egas Cristovão) 15May20

“Arão Noé Amaral, premeditated or intentionally, wants to paralyse the functioning of the National Parliament to bring political benefit to CNRT, seeking to compel Timor-Leste to hold early elections,” the parties said in a joint statement, seen by TATOLI.

“This act of paralysing the functioning of the National Parliament constitutes a crime of abuse of power, a crime against the State and a crime of subversion.”

PLP Deputy leader, Francisco de Vasconcelos, said the current state of emergency, declared to deal with COVID-19 and other crises, would thwart any attempt to dissolve parliament.

“He [Amaral] has again asked President Lú-Olo to dissolve parliament [but it] cannot happen during the State of Emergency,” he said yesterday.

Luís Roberto (KHUNTO) and Maria Angelina Sarmento (PLP) Images/Tatoli

The 33 members also called on Mr Amaral’s deputies — Luís Roberto (KHUNTO) and Maria Angelina Sarmento (PLP) — to allow time for vote on replacing him, and his two deputies, adding that it’s the only way a parliamentary Vice-President can replace the president, under the rules.

“The absolute majority of deputies, numbering 33, have already asked the Vice-Presidents of NP [to] “mandatorily” plan for a vote on dismissal of the President,” the members write.

Luís Roberto said earlier this week he is willing to lead parliament in a dismissal vote.

“I’m ready. I’m worried about breaking up [this] nation, but to preside over the parliament’s meza in order to keep the organs of state going, I am not afraid,” he said.

President v President

CNRT is also challenging Timor-Leste’s other president – President Francisco Guterres Lú-Olo – on constitutional grounds, planning a fresh petition to the Court of Appeal

President Lú-Olo is a leading figure from rival FRETILIN party, and has clashed with CNRT since the beginning of the 8th Constitutional Government in 2018.

Related news: CNRT to Issue Fresh Appeal After Court Dismisses Challenge to President 

In the original petition, dated May 5, accused President Lú-Olo of “[a] clear and serious violation of constitutional obligations” – however the Court dismissed the submission.

President Lú-Olo declined to support CNRT earlier this year when the party split with the governing AMP Coalition and formed its own, presenting the “New AMP” as the “alternative government”. It has since lost its parliamentary majority when KHUNTO left the bloc.

Spokesman António da Conceição, said New AMP has written to President Lú-Olo asking for clarity of the “future” of the coalition.

Mr Conceiçao said the letter also informs President Lú-Olo that KHUNTO has left the now five-party coalition. But CNRT continues to insist KHUNTO must formally secede from the bloc during a party congress.

KHUNTO President, Armanda dos Santos (left) (Image/Egas Cristovão)

Meanwhile, government sources have confirmed that Armanda dos Santos, the long-time leader of KHUNTO in parliament, has been appointed one of two Deputy Prime Ministers in a cabinet restructure.


Read the original Tetum coverage here:
Laiha Dalan Ba Destituisaun, Arão Noé Kontinua Hein PR Lú Olo Disolve PN
Bankada FRETILIN, PLP no KHUNTO “Obriga” Vise-Prezidente Na’in-Rua Ajenda Pedidu Destituisaun
Xanana Gusmão Husu PR Lú Olo Pronunsia Destinu Koligasaun Foun

Journalist: Evaristo Soares Martins

Editors: Robert Baird, Cancio Ximenes

Translation: Nelia Borges


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