FRETILIN MP: The President of the Republic does not understand the law

TIMOR POST, Dili, 4 November 2007

Dili – According to FRETILIN MP and former Justice Minister Domingos Sarmento, the statements by the President of the Republic Dr. Jose Ramos Horta, that the Judge from the Community of the Portuguese Speaking Countries does not respect the State, was made because he does not understand either the laws in force or the Constitution of Timor-Leste.

“As the President of the Republic Dr. Horta himself does not understand the laws or the constitution in force in Timor-Leste and due to this he himself has violated the constitution”, lamented Domingos.

The MP added that the Constitution clearly stipulates the separation of powers between the Constitutional institutions. The President of the Republic cannot intervene in a case which is before the courts.

“Of course you can still engage in dialog to solve political conflicts, but, once the court has summonsed whomever it is to appear before it to answer charges, it must be obeyed by all of us, but we can see in recent times that the President of the Republic has interfered with the court in this regard,” he followed up saying.

“The President of the Republic cancelled the arrest warrant issued by the court for the arrest of Major Alfredo and the President of the Republic also issued a ‘right of passage’ document which the President of the Republic has no powers to do, but is a power of the court,” said the MP.

Domingos followed up stating that, as the highest office bearer the President of the Republic should be the one guaranteeing the rule of law and democracy in Timor-Leste. The President of the Republic should guarantees the proper functioning of the courts and the independence of the courts.

However, Domingos added, in Timor-Leste, instead, the President of the Republic interferes in the functioning and the independence of the courts.

In addition, MP from the CNRT, Natalino dos Santos, said “In order to solve the problem of this crisis we all have to follow the policies which are currently being implemented by the President of the Republic.”

“To me the policies of the President of the Republic Horta are policies which are good in order to solve the problem we now have. To solve the problem we should not use violence, and because of this I really appreciate the approach which President Ramos Horta has taken,” he pointed out.

Responding to the statements by the FRETILIN MP that in recent times President Ramos Horta has breached the constitution because he has interfered with the judiciary, Natalino said that as a symbol of national unity and the guarantor of national stability, the President of the Republic has the right to intervene with a decision of the court if it is wrong.

“If we are saying the President of the Republic has breached the constitution, then which clause of the constitution has he breached? If some people are saying that the President of the Republic breached the constitution because he cancelled the ISF operations to capture Mr. Alfredo, I can say this is a constitutional right of the President,” said Natalino.

He added that in Timor-Leste only PNTL and UNPOL can comply with court orders to arrest and not the ISF. If the arrest warrant was issued to UNPOL or PNTL and that was cancelled by the President of the Republic, then he would be breaching the constitution.

“The President of the Republic cancelled the ISF operations to arrest Mr. Alfredo for the fundamental reason that he is the Supreme Commander, and because the ISF are in Timor-Leste under the supreme commander”, reinforced the CNRT MP.

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