Vote for FRETILIN!
2007 Parliamentary Elections
"Defending Timor-Leste's independence"
24 June 2007
FRETILIN vows to defend constitution and separation of powers
FRETILIN today vowed to strongly defend the constitution of Timor
Leste (East Timor) against opposition parties' proposals to erode the
separation of powers between the parliament, the president, the
government and the judiciary.
FRETILIN President Francisco Guterres Lu Olo said separation of powers
was essential to prevent one group or person achieving dominance with
the ability to thwart the will of the electorate.
Lu Olo was responding to opposition parties' statements that they
would move to amend the constitution to give the president of the
republic more and wider executive powers.
"FRETILIN will oppose giving any more constitutional power to any one
group or constitutional body," Lu Olo said. "We want the balance and
distribution of power to stay as it is in the constitution. It
protects us all against the excesses of any one individual. I argued
strongly in favour of this when I was the presidential candidate and
continue to do so."
He said the separation of powers as currently defined provides
essential checks and balances necessary for a young democracy. "They
are the sort of checks and balances many countries would like to
have," Lu Olo said.
He said that the constitution had withstood its greatest test by being
able to provide guidelines to help Timor-Leste move from the political
and constitutional crisis which began in May 2006, to the point where
it has been able to hold two rounds of free and democratic
presidential elections and now the election to renew the mandates of
parliament and the government.
"Throughout the crisis, FRETILIN became the target of unconstitutional
attacks on its government and parliament by the former president.
However, we continued to defend the constitution and insisted that the
parliament and government could only be changed democratically and
constitutionally. We are proud of our stand in that we managed to
avoid our nation spiraling into the abyss of unconstitutional coups
where the constitution would have been trampled beyond recognition,"
added Lu Olo.
"The separation of powers entrenched in our constitution resulted in
each organ of the constitution seeking a compromise to move beyond the
crisis. This was more desirable, consensus-based and democratic than
having a sole powerful president or prime minister or even parliament
determining the outcome.
"We need to protect this proven mechanism. FRETILIN will strongly
resist any attempts by any party to erode these checks and balances,"
said Lu Olo.
Lu Olo said the independence of the judiciary also needs to be protected.
"The independence of judicial officers recently came under attack but
FRETILIN and civil society were able to spark public debate that
successfully repelled the attacks. The independence of the judiciary
has recently been strengthened by the reappointment of the Chief
Justice who has been widely applauded for his professionalism and
independence in the midst of the crisis.
"Our constitution was developed over a lengthy period of wide public
debate and discussion. All members of the Constituent Assembly signed
it into existence. The voters have a right to know if the parties
they are voting for will defend our constitution.
"I urge Timorese to vote for FRETILIN to protect our constitution. I
ask the other parties to let the voters know where they stand on this
issue. Do they stand for a system which distributes power and
includes participation in decision making, or do they want to
concentrate power in the hands of one person who can dictate their
will?" said Lu Olo.
For more information, please contact:
Jose Teixeira (+670) 728 7080