ETimor president sets deadline for new government

Wed Jul 25, 11:33 AM ET

JAKARTA (AFP) – East Timor’s president Jose Ramos-Horta said
Wednesday he will decide unilaterally how a government will be formed
in the tiny nation if parties do not reach an agreement themselves by July 30.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner has been pushing for a national unity
government to be formed in the wake of parliamentary polls last
month, which were the first since East Timor won independence in 2002.

None of the 14 parties contesting the polls won the absolute majority
required to govern the impoverished but oil and gas-rich nation,
which faces huge economic and social challenges.

“We are going to continue consultations with political parties… I
will not run nor jump forward to make a hasty decision,” he told reporters.

“That’s why from today until July 30 I will continue consultations
but after July 30, I’ll make a decision.”

Parliament’s first session is set for that day.

The former ruling Fretilin party won 21 seats in the 65-seat parliament.

Trailing in second place was a new movement set up by independence
hero Xanana Gusmao, which has allied with three smaller parties and
wants to form a coalition government with 37 seats in parliament.

“Due to the situation in this country, I want a government that
represents all Timorese, as was shown by the election results,” Horta said.

“What I want is an all-inclusive government which all (parties)
accept. The problem is, who will head it — Fretilin or (the alliance)?”

Tensions have risen on Dili’s streets over the past week, with
repeated low-level run-ins between UN police and youths. Ten UN
vehicles have been damaged in incidents, police said.

The UN police upped their presence here after violence in April and
May last year that left 37 people dead and forced thousands to flee
their homes.

International peacekeepers were dispatched to restore calm and remain
on the ground to provide security.

Elections in the former Portuguese colony followed ongoing violence
and political tension.

East Timor gained independence after a bloody separation from
occupying Indonesia, which ruled it for 24 years.

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