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By Evaristo Soares Martins in Dili

Early elections cannot be allowed to “become the political culture” in Timor-Leste, says the leader of the opposition Fretilin party, Dr Marí Alkatiri.

The former Prime Minister said he wants to see an end to the political impasse, prompted by the collapse of the governing AMP Alliance.

But, he stressed, Fretilin does not want to join the government right now.

READ MORE: In Timor-Leste, failed budget sparks a political crisis

“Fretilin forms government in 2023, not in 2020,” he said, after meeting with the minority Democratic Party (PD) yesterday.

Fretilin was defeated in the 2018 election by the AMP Alliance, comprising Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak’s PLP, Xanana Gusmão’s CNRT, and the KHUNTO party.

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The coalition fell apart after CNRT helped block the government’s 2020 budget in December, and the PLP has ruled out forming a new coalition with Gusmão’s party.

President Francisco Guterres Lú-Olo has the authority to dissolve Parliament and order fresh elections, ahead of schedule. But Dr Alkatiri argues that would be a mistake.

‘Have a fight, then divorced’
“We are not able to settle the argument, and now we go for election? It’s like husband and wife [who] have a fight, then get divorced. Fretilin does not want it to be the culture,” Dr Alkatiri said.

Dr Alkatiri said that during the first three years of President Lú-Olo’s five-year term, he has called an early election twice, and that unlike in European democracies, they have a greater impact on Timorese public institutions.

“Now, two [early] elections in our country have affected public administration. And if it affects the administration, it affects people’s lives, this is what we should avoid,” he said.

Dr Alkatiri said Fretilin delegations would travel to 10 districts, beginning with the Oé-Cusse enclave and two municipalities that are aligned to the party.

Evaristo Soares Martins is a journalist for Tatoli. Translated by Nelia Borges.

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