September 10, 2010 – 2:14PM
Prime Minster Xanana Gusmao said on Friday that the resignation of his deputy, whose party has threatened to withdraw from the ruling coalition, will not lead to the collapse of East Timor’s government.
Gusmao’s former deputy Mario Viejas Carrascalao said he had no choice but to quit this week after his boss called him a “liar” for openly questioning the country’s commitment to fighting corruption and improving people’s lives.
If Carrascalao’s Social Democratic Party pulls out of the government, Gusmao’s ruling coalition will lose its majority in parliament by three seats, dealing another blow to the tiny country’s political stability.
“This won’t affect my government at all,” Gusmao said early on Friday morning.
“The government is still strong.”
It was unclear whether Gusmao was saying that he expected the Social Democrats Party to stay, or whether he was confident that other MPs could be recruited to join his coalition if they withdraw.
Gusmao said he has accepted Carrascalao’s resignation as one of two deputy prime ministers and will not seek a replacement.
Members of the Social Democratic Party, among four parties in the ruling coalition, hinted on Friday that they could withdraw from the government as early as next week.