05/29/2018, 14.44
EAST TIMOR
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Xanana Gusmao’s coalition gets majority in parliament

The Alliance of Change for Progress (AMP) won 49.6 per cent of the vote and 34 out of 65 seats. Outgoing Fretilin Prime Minister Alkatiri won 34.2 per cent. The latest election sought to end months of political and constitutional deadlock.

Dili (AsiaNews/Agencies) – An East Timor opposition coalition, including a party led by independence hero Xanana Gusmao, won a majority of the seats in parliament in the 12 May election, East Timor’s Court of Appeal announced yesterday.

The election was held to end a political and constitutional deadlock that had lasted months after no one had emerged with a majority in the previous poll.

Because of the impasse, President Francisco Guterres had dissolved the Legislative Assembly and the minority government of Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri.

The Alliance of Change for Progress (AMP) won 49.6 per cent of the votes, the court said. The AMP, a coalition of Gusmao’s National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT) and two other parties, secured 34 of the 65 seats in parliament.

The Fretilin party of outgoing Prime Minister Alkatiri won 34.2 per cent of votes. The party had protested about alleged irregularities during the vote, but the appeal court rejected the complaint.

Despite his victory, it is still unclear whether Gusmao will become prime minister.

The election campaign was marred by sporadic violence, though East Timor has been largely peaceful in recent years following recurrent bouts of political instability that it suffered since independence from Indonesia in 2002.

Since then, the Asian nation with the highest percentage of Catholics (97% of the population) has struggled to alleviate widespread poverty, eliminate corruption and develop its rich oil and gas resources.

The energy sector accounted for approximately 60 per cent of GDP in 2014 and over 90 per cent of government revenue.

Over the past ten years, government policies have focused mainly on infrastructure projects and a declining oil fund to revive the economy.

However, the nation has made little progress in the fight against poverty in rural areas, where almost 70 per cent of the population live.

Candidates in the election had campaigned on promises to develop education and healthcare and boost agriculture and tourism in the country.

A recent UN survey found that about half of the citizens live below the extreme poverty line, set at US $ 1.90 a day, and 50 per cent of children under five suffer from physical and mental growth problems due to malnutrition.

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