East Timorese government sworn in, instability escalates


East Timorese government sworn in, instability escalates

Patrick O’Connor

5 July 2018

A new East Timorese government was sworn into office on June 22, following an early election held in May that was triggered by the collapse of a minority Fretilin administration earlier this year. Fretilin is now the official opposition party, after receiving 34 percent of the total vote and 23 of the 65 seats in parliament.

A new tripartite coalition called the Alliance of Change for Progress (AMT), led by Xanana Gusmão and Taur Matan Ruak, is in power, after it won 49.6 percent of the vote and 34 parliamentary seats. Ruak, the former head of the Timorese military, has been installed as prime minister.

Gusmão, the former guerrilla leader during the Indonesian occupation of the former Portuguese colony (between 1975–1999) and former president and prime minister of the new state, is reportedly preparing to serve as the Minister of State and Advisor to the Prime Minister. This position will see him retain control over negotiations for the pending corporate exploitation of the Greater Sunrise and other offshore gas fields.

The new government confronts an escalating political and economic crisis, exacerbated by rising geo-political tensions that are being fuelled by the efforts of the US and its allies, including Australia, to counter China’s regional influence.

Timor’s political establishment, which continues to be dominated by the “1975 generation” of independence leaders, is increasingly distrusted by ordinary people. Those aged less than 25 years comprise nearly 70 percent of the population. All they have experienced is the bitter failure of the promise that an “independent” capitalist statelet established under the patronage of various imperialist powers would…

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