In eighteen years since the restoration of independence, only one government – the Fourth Constitutional Government – has been able to complete its full term.
In view of this situation, I felt it was imperative to reflect very deeply on the political life of our country. I have called on dialogue between all and at all levels in the search for a lasting political solution.
We needed to avoid rushing, because haste is the road to error.
The parties represented in Parliament, in response to the President’s call, sought to strengthen relations between them in order to find a solution to the political, governing and Parliamentary situation, known as political stalemate.
The current broad consensus between the political parties about the continuity of the Eight Constitutional Government safeguarded the government’s viability. It must however be acknowledged that such broad consensus resulted from FRETILIN’s initiative known as Political Consensus Platform, which was immediately embraced by PLP and whose immediate goal was to provide the necessary basis for the continuity of the Government. KHUNTO and, at a later stage, PD also expressed their support for the Eight Constitutional Government.
It is on this basis that there is now a new Parliamentary majority capable of sustaining this Government until the end of its term, in 2023.
On 29 May last, I had already sworn in eight (8) new members. Today, I have sworn in twenty-one (21) new members of the Eight Constitutional Government. Between one ceremony and the other, the President has waited. The citizens have waited.
With regard to the Organic Law of the Government, Article 115(3) of the Constitution gives the government exclusive legislative powers on matters concerning its own organisation and functioning. It should be noted that these exclusive powers are predicated on the constitutionally recognised principle of self-governance of the bodies of sovereignty.
Ladies and gentlemen,
There are examples from everywhere around the world, even from consolidated democracies, of the lack of qualified majorities in Parliament, which can result in longer periods for the formation of governments. Nevertheless, in consolidated democracies, the existence of strong institutions mitigates the potential effects, even if negative, of the delay in forming the executive.
It is therefore important, in any event, to reflect on representativeness and on legitimacy. In democracy, both are crucial components. Signs of the times!
The plural expression of opinions and the parliamentary debate – which is so often heated but should always be grounded on humility and respect for others – are necessary conditions for the consolidation of democracy. The political parties are responsible for reaching agreements that further the consolidation of a parliamentary majority. But it is also one of their key roles, whether or not they are in the opposition, to offer constructive criticism of government action.
Ultimately, it is the sovereign will of the People, expressed in the ballot through their vote, that lends legitimacy to the proposals and actions of the political parties represented in the National Parliament.
The parliamentarians have the dual responsibility of expressing the will of their respective political parties and representing the will of the People in the National Parliament. It is in this capacity that they must therefore exercise their Government oversight role.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Our Constitution, the ‘mother of all laws’, confers great responsibility upon the political parties and therefore its leaders. We should be aware that it is our citizens who demand that party and parliamentary group leaders work towards the establishment of stable parliamentary majorities, to ensure Governments capable of completing their full terms.
The welfare of our People requires maturity on the part of the party leaders and hard work on the part of the parliamentary groups and of each individual member of Parliament to fulfil their campaign promises and have the courage to answer for their actions before the voters. Political parties cannot be machines whose sole function is winning elections. They must be spaces for promoting political and civic responsibility and raising civic awareness. The political parties, the members of Parliament, and the Government must contribute to the fulfilment of the campaign promises and the Government programme for this term.
Ladies and gentlemen,
A new COVID-19 outbreak is imminent. Countries that had relaxed their strict measures now feel obliged to resume confinement practices; the number of People infected is constantly on the rise, having already exceeded 9,000,000; regrettably, the number of deaths is already over 450,000.
I would take this opportunity to highlight the success of the preventive measures adopted by the Eighth Constitutional Government, as well as the maturity of our citizens and the professionalism of all our compatriots who work in the front line. I want to congratulate the Prime Minister. Nevertheless, basic precaution demands that we all remain vigilant. Any less-than-careful attitude can compromise the entire effort we have consciously made to date.
Next week, I am going to invite a team from the Integrated Crisis Management Centre in order to be briefed in detail about the current status of COVID-19 in the country. The government will carry out its analysis and put forth proposals that will be assessed and determined by me in my capacity as President of the Republic, in accordance with established procedures.
Mr Prime Minister, my dear brother Taur Matan Ruak
Honourable members of government,
On a global scale, this is not only a health crisis. COVID-19 has caused millions of people around the world to become unemployed, and even the most moderate forecasts point to a global recession.
The challenges that lie ahead require us to adopt positions of inclusion, promoting permanent dialogue, respect for the opinion of others, and the ability to work as a team, always considering the collective well-being above our individual interests.
Today, we have opportunity to rethink our national development – and it is urgent to safeguard the national production, employment, and revenue, which entails diversifying the economy and ensuring its medium- and long-term sustainability. To this end, our country must make more intelligent use of the human resources at its disposal.
I am pleased to note that the government has already initiated actions towards preparing an economic recovery plan that may serve to kick-start economic growth and improve the living conditions of our People, which have been deteriorating due to the effects of COVID-19 as well as earlier factors of political, economic, and financial nature.
In this regard, I congratulate the Prime Minister on the choice of professionals involved in the Economic Recovery Commission. I urge them to perform this role objectively, pursuing the real needs of our society and the significant improvement of our citizens’ welfare.
I would like to stress that the success of this plan’s preparation lies in the combined scientific and technical knowledge and the experience and participation of the relevant institutions of government, as well as civil society, the private sector, the communities, and the development partners which have traditionally engaged in cooperation with our country.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Corruption is a widespread phenomenon worldwide, and our country is no exception. Corruption is an evil that undermines the state and disrupts its proper functioning.
Corruption strikes against fundamental values and invalidates practices as important as transparency, which are sine qua non for democracy. To better fight corruption, it is urgent to schedule, discuss, and approve the Anti-Corruption Law.
The widespread practice of corruption in public administration and within our organisations has been revealing signs of moral decline in our society. The funds used by the parties in their activities – and especially during elections – must be thoroughly scrutinised.
The signs of corruption must be a cause for concern to everyone and we all must engage in a coordinated and effective effort to combat it.
This is a type of combat that requires the involvement of our citizenry and non-governmental organisations, and necessarily entails the strengthening of the institutions which, within the state, are responsible for the continued fight against practices that hinder government duties and undermine the democratic functioning of our institutions.
Mr Prime Minister, my brother Taur Matan Ruak
Honourable members of government,
The Eighth Constitutional Government has once again been given political party support in the National Parliament, with a majority that enables it to govern with stability until the end of its term.
I thereby take the liberty of speaking to you plainly. Picking a good team is a key factor for success, but it is not enough to make success happen. In order to ensure success, the Government must demonstrate competence, honesty, responsibility, dedication, and effective performance.
Mr Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak, my dear brother,
You were able to lead the guerrilla through uncertain times, always committed to maintaining the FALINTIL under the principle of ‘protecting our forces and annihilating the enemy in every confrontation’.
You demonstrated this with your management of the few material and human resources at your disposal. Our forces continued to fight intelligently, reinforcing themselves with weaponry and ammunition captured from the enemy, and the armed struggle continued until we were able to reaffirm our identity as a People and as a Nation.
I’m talking about effectiveness, efficiency, and sustainability.
Use this experience as an analogy in your pursuit of a sustainable governance and our country’s development, towards the welfare of over one million Timorese citizens who confidently await you.
Our People expect a lot from you. As President of the Republic, I encourage you and will contribute with my constitutional powers to the success of your action. But the success of the Government will always depend, first and foremost, on the Government itself. Governing the country is not only an opportunity, but first and foremost a great collective and individual responsibility.
I wish you success.
Thank you very much.