East Timorese parliamentary election, 2007
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politics and government of
A parliamentary election was held in East Timor on 30 June 2007. Although a narrow plurality was achieved by the Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (FRETILIN), a coalition involving the next three largest groups formed a government. New Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão (who was the nation's President until May 2007) of the National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT) was sworn in on 8 August 2007; Fernando de Araújo of the Democratic Party became President of the National Parliament.
Vote counting in this election was conducted differently due to a new law, according to which votes were to be counted at district counting centers, rather than at polling stations as they were formerly. It was required of parties that one out of every four candidates on their candidate lists be women.
Former President Xanana Gusmão contested the elections with his newly founded National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction. Fourteen parties participated in the election for the 65 seats in parliament, conducted on the basis of proportional representation with party lists.
In early June, two supporters of the CNRT were killed in pre-election violence at the beginning of the campaign period; the rest of the campaign period was reportedly peaceful, however.
Provisional results announced on July 9 show FRETILIN in first place with 29.02% of the vote, followed by the CNRT with 24.10%, the ASDT-PSD with 15.73%, and the Democratic Party with 11.30%. On the same day, the electoral commission announced the distribution of seats based on the provisional results: 21 for FRETILIN, 18 for the CNRT, 11 for the ASDT-PSD, 8 for the Democratic Party, 3 for the National Unity Party, 2 for the Democratic Alliance, and 2 for UNDERTIM. In order to win seats, a party had to receive at least 3% of the vote, and seven parties did not reach this level. The electoral commission placed voter turnout at 80.5%.
With no party receiving a majority of the vote, a coalition government became necessary. Shortly after the election, a CNRT spokesman said that the party was discussing the possibility of forming a coalition with the ASDT-PSD and the Democratic Party. FRETILIN secretary-general Mari Alkatiri also said his party was engaged in coalition talks, but said there was no possibility of the party forming a coalition with the CNRT. PSD leader Mario Viegas Carrascalao said that an alliance of his party with the CNRT would be "natural", but that the presence of a breakaway faction of FRETILIN in the CNRT was "unacceptable". Democratic Party leader Fernando "Lasama" de Araújo said that his party could form a coalition with the CNRT, as there were "no big differences" between it and Gusmão, but also said that there should be a government of national unity including all parties elected to parliament; he argued that it would be harmful to exclude anyone due to what he described as deep differences already existing in the country. President José Ramos-Horta also mentioned the possibility of a national unity government, but Alkatiri, reiterating that a coalition including both FRETILIN and the CNRT was out of the question, said that it would be better for democracy for there to be a strong opposition.
On July 6, it was announced that the CNRT, the ASDT-PSD, and the Democratic Party would form a coalition. Alkatiri argued that it is not necessary for a party to have a majority of seats to govern, and that FRETILIN could form a minority government; on July 7, he said that FRETILIN would do so if it could not form a coalition with other parties. However, he subsequently expressed interest in a government of national unity and said that FRETILIN's doors were "open for all parties, including CNRT".
On July 16, President Ramos-Horta said that FRETILIN and the CNRT-led alliance of parties had agreed to form a national unity government, although details remained to be discussed and it had not been decided who would be prime minister. Negotiations between the parties began regarding the composition of the new government; Ramos-Horta said that he would make the decision if the parties could not reach an agreement. On July 24, he said that the parties had "not yet reached agreement on a new government", but that his July 25 deadline for the parties to reach an agreement was "flexible". Araújo, as spokesman for the CNRT-led coalition, said that it would propose Gusmão as Prime Minister, arguing that, because the parties in the coalition will hold a combined majority of seats, it is their constitutional right to choose the prime minister. He said that FRETILIN could not expect anything more than to have some ministers in the government.
Parliament was sworn in for its new term on July 30, although the new government and prime minister were still undecided. Araújo was elected speaker of parliament at the new parliament's first session.
Alkatiri said on August 1 that he would be FRETILIN's candidate for prime minister, while criticizing Gusmão's record as president. Ramos-Horta delayed his deadline for forming a government until August 3. In a statement, Alkatiri called for a national unity government, saying that this would bring stability and citing what he described as "the will of the electorate".
On August 3, Ramos-Horta said that he would ask the CNRT-led coalition to form a government on August 6, because of its parliamentary majority, unless an agreement is reached before then. He said that this decision was based on his conscience; he also said that, if FRETILIN is excluded, it would still be needed by the new government and would not be ignored. FRETILIN threatened to boycott parliament.
Ramos-Horta announced on August 6 that the CNRT-led coalition would form the government and that Gusmão would become Prime Minister. FRETILIN denounced Ramos-Horta's decision as unconstitutional, and angry FRETILIN supporters in Dili immediately reacted to Ramos-Horta's announcement with violent protests. On August 7, Alkatiri said that the party would fight the decision through legal means.
Gusmão was sworn in at the presidential palace in Dili on August 8; most of his government was also sworn in on the same day. José Luís Guterres, the leader of a dissident FRETILIN faction, became Deputy Prime Minister.
An estimated 600 houses and confirmed 142 were burnt by marauding mobs. The majority of the damage was experienced in the areas where FRETILIN's support is strongest between Viqueque and Baucau. A few buildings in Dili were also torched. In Baucau, police said that over 50 people had been arrested for arson.
Alkatiri said that FRETILIN would urge the people to protest and practice civil disobedience. He said that FRETILIN was not responsible for the violence, which he said was the result of the people's frustration, and that he hoped the discontent did not lead to a "people's power" revolt, although he said FRETILIN could not "stop the people protesting for their rights". Arsenio Bano of FRETILIN claimed that his party had been willing to accept an independent prime minister as part of a national unity government, and that Ramos-Horta had also supported this idea, but that Gusmão rejected it because he wanted to be prime minister.
On August 10, a convent in Baucau was attacked and damaged, and a number of female students at the convent were said to have been raped. The government said that a child had been killed in Viqueque, the first death to be reported in the unrest. On August 11, a UN convoy of three vehicles was attacked between Baucau and Viqueque. According to FRETILIN, this attack was the result of the destruction by members of the UN force of banners and flags used by protesters.
A few days later, Bano said that FRETILIN would not challenge the government in court, and expressed a desire for a "political solution" leading to the creation of a national unity government. After initially boycotting parliament, the FRETILIN members began attending later in August. Gusmão has reportedly offered FRETILIN positions in the government  though this probably refers to the ex-Fretilin members such as José Luís Guterres.
On August 23, violence occurred in several places, including Dili, and two people were reported killed in Ermera. In Metinaro, near Dili, there was fighting in the streets with machetes and other weapons; at least ten houses were reportedly burned and the town's market was destroyed.
|Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor (Frente Revolucionária do Timor-Leste Independente)||120,592||29.02||21|
|National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (Congresso Nacional da Reconstrução Timorense)||100,175||24.10||18|
|Democratic Party (Partido Democrático)||46,946||11.30||8|
|National Unity Party (Partido Unidade Nacional)||18,896||4.55||3|
|Democratic Alliance (Aliança Democratica)
|National Unity of Timorese Resistance (União Nacional Democrática de Resistência Timorense)||13,247||3.19||2|
|Timorese Nationalist Party (Partido Nasionalista Timorense)||10,057||2.42||0|
|Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste Party (Partido Democratika Republica de Timor)||7,718||1.86||0|
|Republican Party (Partidu Republikanu)||4,408||1.06||0|
|Christian Democratic Party (Partido Democrata Cristão)||4,300||1.03||0|
|Socialist Party of Timor (Partido Socialista de Timor)||3,982||0.96||0|
|Timorese Democratic Union (União Democrática Timorense)||3,753||0.90||0|
|Millennium Democratic Party (Partido Milénio Democrático)||2,878||0.69||0|
|Total (turnout 80.5%)||415,604||100.00||65|
After all the contradictions occurred with all the violent acts by the population who didn't satisfied with the election yield. Xanana Gusmão, the president of CNRT built an Alliance of Parliament that embraced some parties that wanted to join his party. Eventually, both majority prties (CNRT and Fretilin) agreed with the coalition which is the Alliance of Parliament (AMP - Alianca Maioria de Parlamentar, in Portuguese) to take over the parliament and government.
- "National Provisional Results from the 30 June 2007 Parliamentary Elections", Comissão Nacional de Eleições Timor-Leste, July 9, 2007.
- "East Timor on course for 'smooth polls'", Reuters (The Sydney Morning Herald), June 26, 2007.
- Manuela Leong Pereira and Jill Sternberg, "Women's Involvement in Timor-Leste's Presidential Elections", anfrel.org.
- "East Timor president to lead new political party", ABC Radio Australia, March 27, 2007.
- "No party gains majority in East Timor election", Kyoto News (asia-pacific-action.org), July 4, 2007.
- Emma O'Brien, "East Timor Election Will Lead to Coalition Government", Bloomberg.com, July 5, 2007.
- "Fretilin claims E Timor victory", BBC News, July 5, 2007.
- "Timor is on track for coalition government", AFP (Gulf Times), July 5, 2007.
- "EAST TIMOR: POSSIBLE COALITION WITH GUSMAO, SAYS LEADER OF DEMOCRAT PARTY", AKI (adnki.com), July 3, 2007.
- Tito Belo, "Fretilin rejects unity call", Reuters (theage.com.au), July 6, 2007.
- "Coalition govt for East Timor", AFP (World News Australia), July 6, 2007.
- "EAST TIMOR: A MINORITY CAN GOVERN SAYS FRETILIN LEADER", AKI (adnki.com), July 5, 2007.
- "Rival of East Timor independence hero proposes alternative government", Associated Press (International Herald Tribune), July 6, 2007.
- "Fretilin open to E Timor unity govt", Reuters (abc.net.au), July 10, 2007.
- "East Timor parties to form a unity government", Reuters (International Herald Tribune), July 16, 2007.
- "E Timor president to choose govt if parties won't agree", AFP/Reuters (abc.net.au), July 20, 2007.
- "Political deadlock looms in Timor", Associated Press (Herald Sun), July 24, 2007.
- Emma O'Brien, "Gusmao, East Timor's Former President, May Lead New Government", Bloomberg.com, July 27, 2007.
- "Timor MPs sworn in, no government yet", Reuters (Gulf Times), July 31, 2007.
- "East Timor's ousted prime minister wants his job back", Associated Press (International Herald Tribune), August 1, 2007.
- "Fretilin seeks 'inclusive' E Timor govt", AAP (theage.com.au), August 2, 2007.
- "Gusmao asked to lead East Timor", Reuters (theage.com.au), August 4, 2007.
- Lindsay Murdoch, "Violence greets Horta's PM decision", smh.com.au, August 6, 2007.
- "East Timor's Independence Hero To Be Next Prime Minister", VOA News, August 6, 2007.
- "Riots after Gusmao named E Timor PM", Al Jazeera, August 7, 2007.
- "Gusmao sworn in as East Timor PM", Al Jazeera, August 8, 2007.
- "Xanana Gusmão tomou posse em Timor-Leste", LUSA (rtp.pt), August 8, 2007 (Portuguese).
- Stephen Fitzpatrick, "Fretilin sidelined in Timorese cabinet", The Australian, August 9, 2007.
- Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre
- Anne Barker, "Mobs burn hundreds of houses in E Timor", abc.net.au, August 10, 2007.
- Lindsay Murdoch, "Fretilin threatens 'people-power' coup", theage.com.au, August 9, 2007.
- "One killed in East Timor violence", Reuters (The Peninsula Online), August 12, 2007.
- Emma O'Brien, "East Timor Rioters Attack UN Convoy as Violence Expands in East", Bloomberg.com, August 13, 2007.
- "Planned challenge to E Timor Govt dropped", AFP (abc.net.au), August 15, 2007.
- "ETimor PM offers Fretilin seats in cabinet", ABC Radio Australia, August 24, 2007.
- Ed Johnson, "East Timor Rioters Fight With Machetes, Challenging Government", Bloomberg.com, August 24, 2007.
- "2 dead, houses burned as youths rampage across East Timor", Associated Press (International Herald Tribune), August 23, 2007.