07/06/2007, 00.00
EAST TIMOR
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Coalition government for East Timor

Fretilin wins a plurality in parliamentary elections but not enough to form a government. Former President Gusmão’s is likely to form a coalition with three other parties if it gets the president’s green light.

Dili (AsiaNews/Agencies) – A coalition government led by independence leader Xanana Gusmão is the likeliest scenario following last week’s parliamentary elections. As expected none of 14 parties running candidates got an absolute majority.

Gusmão’s Conselho Nacional de Reconstrução do Timor or CNRT (National Council for Timor’s Reconstruction) won 24 per cent of the vote. Together with the Partido Social Democrata (Social Democratic Party), Associação Social-Democrata Timorense (Timorese Social Democratic Association) and the Partido Democrático (Democratic Party), it reaches 51 per cent of the seats.

If President José Ramos Horta approves the coalition government, Gusmão will received the mandate to form the new government. Presently, the country is still waiting for the Appeal Court to declare the elections results official.

Still the situation remains uncertain. Fretilin, which was in power since 2001, has refused to go into the opposition without a fight. With a 29 per cent share of the vote, its leaders threaten legal action.

“We don't rule out the possibility of forming our own government or the possibility of forming a government with other parties,” senior Fretilin advisor Harold Moucho said.

However, the party under former premier Mari Alkatiri appears politically isolated. Even if it won a plurality it still suffered heavy electoral losses. Last year it failed to prevent a major crisis caused by clashes between the army, mutinous soldiers and criminal gangs.

The violence, which took place in April-May 2006, left 37 people dead, forcing 150,000 residents of the capital Dili and environs to flee.

Many voters in the young state blame Fretilin for failing to prop up the national economy which is in bad shape. Almost half of the workforce is unemployed and the average per capita income is less than a dollar a day.

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