Timor-Leste government parties back Lú-Olo’s return as president

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Support for President Francisco
Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak (right), Fretilin's Dr Mari Alkatiri and KHUNTO's José Naimori reaffirm their support for sitting President Francisco "Lú-Olo" Guterres for the run-off round in the Timorese president election next month. Image: Lusa

Asia Pacific Report newsdesk

Leaders from the three key parties in the Timor-Leste governing coalition have confirmed that are supporting the incumbent head of state, Francisco “Lú-Olo” Guterres, in the second round of the presidential elections next month, reports Lusa news agency.

The officials of the three parties — Fretilin, PLP and KHUNTO– were together at a national conference of the People’s Liberation Party (PLP) that analysed both support in the presidential elections and for their three-way platform for the 2023 legislature.

Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak, president of the PLP, announced that he supported Lú-Olo’s candidacy in the run-off round of the presidential election on April 2-16.

He never spoke out in the first round and he says he will now take a break to take part in the electoral campaign.

“My plan is this: first, to ensure that the coalition, in 2023, continues to work together, to compete for the legislative elections,” he said.

“Then, within the framework of the project of continuing to work together, to support Lú-Olo as the candidate for president for a new term,” Ruak told journalists.

KHUNTO leader José Naimori said his party also supported the current head of state.

Support for ‘brother Lú-Olo’
“Our three parties together support brother Lú-Olo to be president for another term,” he said.

Dr Mari Alkatiri, secretary-general of Fretilin (Frente Revolucionaria de Timor-Leste Independente), Timor-Leste’s largest political party, expressed confidence in support for Lú-Olo.

“I am sure that the PLP and KHUNTO, together with Fretilin, support Lú-Olo. It is a platform that supports Lú-Olo’s national candidacy,” he said.

Ruak said the prime minister’s functions would be carried out by deputy prime minister Armanda Berta dos Santos while he was campaigning in the elections.

Berta dos Santos, president of KHUNTO (Kmanek Haburas National Unit Timor Oan) was the third most successful candidate in the first round of the presidential elections on March 19 with 8.69 percent of the votes.

“All militants have to maintain this position, ensuring that we’re together until 2023 and that we give the victory to Lú-Olo”, she said.

Guterres gained the second most votes (22.16 percent) in the first round and will contest the run-off with José Ramos-Horta, a former president and the Nobel Peace Prize laureate (46.51 percent).

Other decisions awaited
Among the highest placed of the 16 candidates, a formal decision is still awaited by Lere Anan Timur – voted fourth with 7.57 percent of the votes – and the Democratic Party (PD) which supported the candidacy of Mariano Assanami Sabino, fifth most voted with 7.26 percent.

Some candidates have already announced their support, among them Anacleto Ferreira, Rogério Lobato and Isabel Ferreira, who will support José Ramos-Horta.

Others, such as Milena Pires and Virgílio Guterres, left the decision up to the freedom of their supporters, despite the latter saying he would not support a candidate who intended to dissolve Parliament — a reference to Ramos-Horta.

Asked about the fact that his wife, Isabel Ferreira, had already announced that she backed Ramos-Horta, Prime Minister Ruak said democracy was practised at home.

“In our family there is democracy, we practise democracy at home. We have Protestant, Catholic, Muslim people. And in politics we have a family from Fretilin, CNRT, PLP and there is no problem. This is democracy,” he said.

Republished with permission.

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