Former East Timor Prime Minister calls for Xanana Gusmão to resign

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Mari Alkatiri in 2001
Current Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão in 2002

Former East Timor Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri called for the resignation of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmão following the allegation last week by former police chief Alfredo Reinado that Gusmao orchestrated the civil unrest in 2006.

"I think that it is time for Xanana to resign from his post because he has established a precedent in 2006 based on allegations without fact," said Alkatiri, who lost power during the 2006 rioting.

Alkatiri also called on the East Timorese President, Dr José Ramos-Horta, to pressure the Prime Minister to resign. “Ramos-Horta, as foreign minister, was very supportive of Xanana to force me to resign. Now he is president of the republic and he has to do the same," he added, referring to the resignation of Ramos-Horta and several other members of cabinet during the peak of the 2006 crisis.

The conflict, which left over 30 people dead and thousands homeless, followed an Alkatiri government's decision in March that year to lay-off 600 soldiers when they refused to work, approximately one third of the country’s official defence force. The soldiers alleged that Alkatiri gave special treatment to former Fretilin commanders.

Alfredo Reinado has been in hiding with supporters since escaping from prison in August 2006, after being arrested on charges of illegal weapons distribution, desertion and attempted murder following the 2006 unrest.

Dr Ramos-Horta rejected calls for the Prime Minister's resignation, saying "I cannot do it because these are allegations by one individual in a very vague manner." He also added, "Never before [has] Mr Alfredo Reinado told me anything about Mr Xanana Gusmao's involvement, with him, or with anyone, in inciting the crisis in 2006."