FRETILIN MPs walk out of parliament in protest

FRENTE REVOLUCIONÁRIA DO TIMOR-LESTE INDEPENDENTE

FRETILIN

Media Release

May 7, 2008

FRETILIN MPs walked out of yesterday afternoon’s session (Tuesday 6 May
2008) of Timor Leste’s Parliament in protest at attempts to prevent
questioning of two government ministers involved in dubious commercial
transactions worth many millions of dollars.

FRETILIN said the President of the National Parliament, Fernando Lasama
Araujo misused parliament’s standing orders to restrict questioning of the
Mr Mariano Sabino, Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, and Mr Gil Alves,
Minister for Tourism, Commerce and Industry, to one question per party.

FRETILIN parliamentary leader Aniceto Guterres said today he wanted to ask
the Minister for Tourism, Commerce and Industry why a multi million dollar
contract for rice importation was single sourced instead of through an
international tender.

“The de facto Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries needs to confirm or
deny reports that he has signed agreements granting foreign companies
300,000 hectares for rubber plantations and another 100,000 hectares for
sugar cane for bio fuel, when our people are facing high prices for all food
commodities and our country is still importing most of its rice needs,”
Guterres said.

Guterres accused parliamentary President Lasama of misusing standing orders
to protect the de facto Ministers and the de facto AMP government from being
held accountable to the people’s representatives on these very serious
questions.

“This is contrary to parliamentary rules and the practice in the previous
parliament. This is an undemocratic trend and shows how desperate the de
facto government’s allies are becoming in the face of a wave of allegations
of maladministration and highly questionable deals involving government
tenders worth many millions of dollars,” added Guterres.

“These latest cases of maladministration follow revelations that Deputy
Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres, used public funds to increase his wife’s
salary as a diplomat in New York, whilst he was Minister for Foreign Affairs
and Cooperation. The money was used to purchase a grand piano.

“For over one week we have formally requested the parliament to call the de
facto AMP government to attend parliament to respond to our queries about
the level of success in spending the budget for the transitional period 1
July to 31 December 2007. But to date we have had no response. Given the
restrictions by the President of the Parliament yesterday, we fear that our
efforts to hold the government accountable on budget execution will be
similarly thwarted,” said Guterres.

Despite the lack of quorum once FRETILIN and ASDT were not present, the
parliament continued to proceed, another serious issue with the conduct of
the President of the Parliament.

Contact: Jose Teixeira +670 728 7080

Nilva Guimaraes +670 734 0389

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